Thu | Aug 16, 2018

Sewage plague threatens Jones Town

Published:Saturday | March 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM



If an epidemic broke out it in a poor section of Kingston, it would quickly affect the better-off areas as the poor people go to work in those communities and work as cleaners and domestics.

There is real danger that the untreated sewage flowing on to Benbow Street in Jones Town could lead to an outbreak in cholera that might trigger the deaths of Jamaicans.

Make no mistake: An outbreak of such disease would not be confined to Jones Town, as since people travel and interact, it could cause the deaths of tourists. A travel advisory from the State Department would hit one of our major foreign-exchange earners - the tourist industry.

If you think this is alarmist, please note that the World Health Organization says cholera can kill within hours and also reports that every year there are about 1.3 million to four million cases and 21,000 to 143,000 deaths resulting from the disease.

The effluent is coming from a number of places on Benbow Street, Jones Town, in the vicinity of a popular Seventh-day Adventist Church, which draws heavy traffic, and then flows into the gutters and down into the gully all the way to Kingston Harbour. Many homes are being affected directly.

On Saturday, March 4, there was a woman filming the flow with her smartphone with the intention of sending the clip to Television Jamaica, hoping that action will be taken. The people of Jones Town are very concerned that there could be an outbreak of disease.

This is clearly a major public health hazard, not just for the people on Jones Town but for everyone in Jamaica.

The concerned residents report that there is a nursing mother in one of the homes from which the sewage was flowing.

To give a simple example, a resident of 22 Benbow Street wakes up each morning with raw sewage in her compound and has to step over it in order to get to the street. There is a powerful and steady stream of sewage coming from somewhere under the entrance to her home. The flow is accompanied by a stench that especially affects her little boy.

The residents are understandably upset and frustrated by the neglect that has led to them living with this situation.

It is important that the Ministry of Health, the National Water Commission and the political representatives be involved in addressing the situation.

The people of Jones Town and we the people of Jamaica deserve better. This is a catastrophe waiting to happen.