Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Letter of the Day | Culture shift crucial to disaster mitigation

Published:Tuesday | May 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM


The devastation caused by the recent torrential rains has yet again opened up debate about the poor planning and the inadequate infrastructure by successive administrations, as well as the unwise decisions and negligence demonstrated by many citizens.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness told reporters last Thursday that funds were set aside to deal with disasters, but not enough were available to deal with the magnitude of the problem that faces us. He also said that there is a master drainage plan that is yet to be implemented.

It should not be lost on us that the irregular cleaning of the drains directly contributes to flooding. Thus, significant efforts should be made in providing the resources to maintain the drainage system.

We are cognisant of the substantial damage to the infrastructure, the economic loss, and the inconvenience that disasters bring. So, in mitigating the concomitant effects, why haven't successive governments made it a priority to allocate the needed resources?

It is easier for us to throw plastic bottles and styrofoam containers into the drains, on the roads, and just about any place that is convenient to us, because we expect that someone will clean it up for us. What is so difficult for us to place our garbage in a bin, or to keep it until it can be properly disposed of?


Lack of enforcement


Insofar as the anti-litter law is concerned, there is a shameful lack of its enforcement by the authorities. Of significance is that there are no bins strategically placed in the many towns and cities across the island. How, then, can we expect to see compliance?

Citizens will continue to flagrantly violate the laws because they know that they are likely to make a mess anywhere and there are no real consequences in teaching and deterring them.

In addition to our culture of littering, there are many who live in informal settlements. These areas are unsuitable since they are usually near riverbanks and lacking in infrastructure.

The Government should act post-haste in regularising the informal settlements, while ensuring that zoning laws are enforced and that the proper infrastructure is put in place and maintained.

In light of the global phenomenon of climate change, we should get serious and make disaster mitigation a priority.