Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Sewage stench rises in downtown again

Published:Thursday | February 13, 2020 | 12:28 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

Students of the Pentab High School & Evening Institute have had to battle the stench of raw sewage spewing from a manhole in front of the school on North Street in Kingston since Monday.

Others from Kingston College, St George’s College, among other schools in the vicinity, have to walk past the overflowing manhole morning and evening, with an eye out for splashes from speeding motorists.

Eleventh-grade student at Pentab, Malique McCleish, shared with The Gleaner yesterday morning that the stench has been having a negative effect on the pupils.

“It disturbs us in our class and it makes us feel bad.”

His friend and classmate, Keron Halstead, said: “We can’t be smelling that every day. When we came back to school on Monday, we see it. This is the second time I remember this happening. The first time did worse than this.”

Millions of taxpayers’ dollars have been spent digging up various sections of North Street in order to fund the replacement or repairing ageing water and sewage infrastructure, but ever so often, pipes break and sewage overflows.

A passer-by bemoaned that action had not been taken to fix the health nuisance, especially because several schools are in proximity to the manhole.

“That wrong, man. It really bad, man. Di things we should block roads fa, we naw do it. I am on my way to the post office and I have to try run past it before dem splash mi.”

Kenneth Lewis, a shoemaker who operates on Central Avenue, close to the intersection with North Street, said that he witnessed a fleet of National Water Commission vehicles “fly” through the sewage en route to another location.

“Nuh too long ago mi see a tractor and two Water Commission truck, and them drove right through the sewage. Even the truck with the vacuum drove past. But who cares?”

He continued: “When this cork, the sewage take the gully, and this is heading to the harbour.”

The Gleaner received affirmation from the National Water Commission (NWC) yesterday that it was aware of the situation and had deployed a crew to carry out a comprehensive assessment, with a view to finding a solution.

NWC Communications Manager Andrew Canon said that the process of implementing a long-term solution started from as far back as 2017 when several blocked lines were cleared.

The utility spent $36 million to fix its sewerage infrastructure along North Street that year although the manholes have, on occasion, overflowed with sewage since then.

As part of the remedy, a state-of-the-art sewer bucket was procured.

An NWC crew was observed attempting to fix the manhole yesterday evening.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com