Tue | Jul 7, 2020

Portland Cottage residents defiant

Published:Wednesday | December 13, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
This file photo shows one of several houses in Portland Cottage, Clarendon, affected by flooding.

Jeremy Lawrence, senior engineer at the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSMC), has said that despite the declaration of Portland Cottage years ago as a no-build zone, by the then Clarendon Parish Council, more houses have been erected in the flood-prone area.

"There should not be anyone there," said Lawrence, who was responding to questions from persons attending a workshop yesterday at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston. The workshop was staged by Global Reporters for the Caribbean and focused on climate change and disaster mitigation.

He pointed out that residents had been removed in the past, especially when a hurricane threatened Jamaica, but they returned after the threat was gone.

Some persons attending the workshop asked whether there was a problem with effective enforcement on the part of the authorities.

Lawrence suggested that in some instances, the municipal corporations did not have sufficient building officers to carry out wide-scale monitoring for breaches.

For example, he said that there were only six building officers at the KSMC, who had the task of not only carrying out inspections and enforcement but also processing building applications.

He argued that in relation to tacking the problem of informal settlements, it was a challenge not only to the municipal corporations but also to the Government.

"It is very difficult to enforce on a squatter settlement when everyone knows that there was an unwritten policy which indicates that "once you reach over a certain number, HAJ (Housing Agency of Jamaica) will step in," Lawrence said, adding that, "You have a whole unit which deals with regularising squatter settlements."

"Once you have that kind of escape clause back door, then enforcement is difficult. [If] You move them today, they will be back."

Hurricane could affect residents of waterfront development in Portmore

A participant at a climate change and disaster mitigation workshop in Kingston asked panellists whether the new housing development near the Forum Hotel in Portmore would be vulnerable to the effects of a hurricane or serious weather event.

Responding, Peter Clarke, deputy managing director, Water Resources Authority, said that while the housing development was located on the "sheltered side of the harbour", a hurricane threat would mean that they would have to be evacuated.

While indicating that mandatory evacuation measures would have to be employed, Clarke raised concerns that when residents of Caribbean Terrace had to be evacuated some time ago, the then government could not provide the necessary security for their homes. He said that when this approach had been applied in the case of Caribbean Terrace in Kingston, the residents returned only to find their household items stolen.