Jamaica Gleaner Online TODAY'S ISSUE
Dec 2, 1999

City Engineer's absence curtails activities at KSAC

Lynford Simpson, Freelance Writer

THE CONTINUED absence of the City Engineer, Patrick Aitcheson, due to illness, has curtailed the Engineer's Department of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation's (KSAC) activities.

The result is that no emergency work has been approved in recent weeks and the Building Department has also come under pressure, as building applications which must be properly verified have been piling up.

A road programme that has been on the drawing boards for the past five months has not yet been prepared.

Chairman of the Finance Committee, William Hasfal, had a hard time explaining to Councillors at Tuesday's sitting of the Finance Committee, that it needed someone with the technical expertise to draft such a programme. But the Councillors are frustrated that on several occasions they have been asked to submit and re-submit the list of roads considered a priority in their divisions and still nothing has been done.

With the revelation that even emergency work was now on hold, tempers flared at the meeting.

"Every minute the man sick," said Lorna Leslie, Councillor for the Denham Town Division. Her frequent and loud interjections almost led to a premature adjournment. But, she said she would not be silenced as, for several months, she had not been able to get any work done in her division.

Land slippage

At the heart of the matter is an absent drain cover at the corner of King and North Streets which makes cleaning futile since debris is washed into it as soon as it rains, again causing a blockage. Ms. Leslie explained the drain had been cleaned "two or three times since the start of the year" but the problem persists as a cover was needed.

Councillor for the Norman Gardens Division, Angella Brown-Burke was also disappointed a road in her division remained partially blocked following a land slippage in the area. Patricia Morgan of the Dallas Division has a similar problem, and despite the situation being considered an emergency, nothing has been done for two weeks.

"The City Engineer's behaviour over the past six month is hurting the KSAC," said Lee Clarke, of the Whitehall Division. According to him, "we can't have one man holding up the work of the entire Council".

In an attempt to appease the Councillors, Town Clerk Errol Greene explained the Ministry of Local Government was aware of the situation and had promised to help. He said he would seek to have the services of an engineer from the Ministry of Works at the KSAC before the end of the week.

But the Town Clerk has another problem, as although he is the chief executive officer of the KSAC, he has not been told what is wrong with the City Engineer.

"He has not indicated what is wrong with him. I don't know if he has asthma or what. He just keeps extending his leave by two weeks at a time and sends a doctor's certificate," Mr. Greene said.

Mr. Aitcheson returned from leave in September and almost immediately requested an additional 35 days. He was away from office for the month of October.

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