Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Putting cart before the horse in Negril

Published:Saturday | April 1, 2017 | 12:00 AM

This is an open letter to the prime minister.

Dear Prime Minister,

It was with great interest that I read an article published in The Gleaner on March 28, 2017 titled '1,200-unit housing project for Negril'.

As a 12-year resident of the far West End of Negril, I have been very aware that the quotes in that article attributed to you are absolutely true - and that the plan for additional housing to help with the accommodation of tourism employees and other new residents is a good one.

The first quote was -

He noted that Negril is "expanding beyond everyone's wildest expectations" and the Government has to put measures in place to meet the huge demand for housing.

Another was -

"Negril is just bursting at the seams," he noted. "We have to figure out now how we plan for that expansion, so you don't have irregular settlements becoming a constraint for the growth of the town."

However, the purpose of this letter to you is simply to point out that while agreeing with all you are said to have stated, there are certain huge alarm signals here also!

We all know that certain areas of Negril have been under stress from serious water shortages over many years past. The specific areas are West End of Negril (especially beyond the Lighthouse), Red Ground district and Westland Mountain district.

For many weeks now, because of a shortage in rainfall collection and storage at Logwood, these areas have had little or no water at usable times during the day, as witnessed and acknowledged by the National Water Commission in their recent public announcement on March 27.

As far back as 2012, I noted that the period of very dubious supply in the West End and the other mentioned areas coincided with the 'high season' for tourism in Negril - approximately between November and April each calendar year.

At that time, during this same period every year - mains water was available at good pressure in the town centre, the beach, and the major hotel area of Negril, so that while the main body of tourists and locals in that area had adequate water supply, the residents of the local areas under discussion repeatedly suffered the extreme opposite.

It seemed clear at that time that when the beach area has maximal water consumption and especially if the dry season is in full swing, the supply or the infrastructure is insufficient to service these affected areas.

So what has happened since 2012?

The NWC extended the supply from Great River through Lucea to Green Island and on to Negril. This allowed reasonable pressure in all the affected areas throughout the problem periods for a couple of years. Well done, NWC!!




But then what? Government approval is given for the construction of one massive hotel in the beach area - Blue Diamond Royalton Hotel, and also a huge extension to Hotel Azul Sensatori.

These hotels have not even opened yet - and already we are back in the same waterless situation in the areas at risk. Now just imagine the addition of the proposed 1,200 more houses in the Negril area!

The people in these affected areas who right now are already thirsty, dirty, unable to wash their

Bodies and those of their children, or their clothes to send them to school, let alone grow the meagre supplies in their yards that help them get by, would suffer even more.

Please do NOT put the cart before the horse again or the horse will die. Infrastructure before more structure - PLEASE!

Housing is great but water is LIFE!