Sat | Feb 24, 2018

Probing Justice | ‘Dry weather’ court - Sections of Supreme Court flooded once it rains

Published:Tuesday | December 26, 2017 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle
The Supreme Court building in downtown Kingston.

People strolling through Justice Square on King Street in downtown Kingston, often pause to admire the eye-catching architecture of the building which houses the Supreme Court.

But what most Jamaicans don’t know is that sections of the building are often inhabitable because of missing ceiling tiles which admit rain freely, often forcing some staff members to leave their offices to seek shelter elsewhere whenever there is a downpour.

"I wonder at times how they have the nerve to be taking visitors on tour of the building, " one member of staff said recently while pointing to spaces left by the large number of missing  ceiling tiles.

Asked how long the tiles have been missing, the staffer member replied: “Years now, certainly more than three years, and every time it rains we have to be spreading newspaper and setting pans and moving desks to prevent the computers from being damaged by rainwater.

"Whenever it rains we cannot even sit at our desks; the water comes down like crazy, and the ceiling tiles falling out,” said another worker.

They said they were tired of complaining as nothing has been done to solve the problem.

The employees also pointed to old desks and boxes are strewn in corridors which they noted are unsightly amid fears that they will soon become a breeding ground for rats and cockroaches.

The relocation of some staff members to the renovated courthouse next door has solved some of the problems but those who have moved say they face a new threat, an unusual odour that has left many ill.

They said complaints have been made about the situation but so far nothing has been done.

Concerns about their working conditions add to the frustration they face over the failure of the management of the system to carry out a long overdue reclassification of posts at the Supreme Court.

"It is almost ten years that I have been appointed in this post and so far nothing is being done for me to move to a higher grade," one member of  staff complained.

"We have been assessed several times and recommendations made by our supervisors but we are still waiting” said another staff member.

According to the staff members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, they are disgruntled and demotivated because it is not fair for them to be working "at the seat of justice" and cannot get justice. 

They said the last thing they heard was that the Ministry of Finance is dealing with the reclassification matter.

Some said they were looking for jobs in the Parish Courts as the salary scales of those clerks are much higher as their posts have been reclassified.

"The only thing left for us to do is go out on King Street with placards and shout for justice," declared one employee.