Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
Rodents, cockroaches creating health hazard in court building
The Supreme Court building in downtown Kingston has been infested with rats and cockroaches for several months now and some employees have described the situation as a health hazard.
Some members of the court staff have expressed the view that very soon the court building, which is being refurbished next door to the derelict Attorney General's building, on Barry Street, will be taken over by the rodents.
Fear is also being expressed that the staff and judges could become infected with leptospirosis.
They are calling for the authorities to take quick action to remedy the situation.
"Cleaning material and disinfectant are scarce commodities and sometimes the janitorial workers have to take cleaning material from their homes," a member of staff disclosed.
Yesterday morning the rats could be seen scurrying along the corridors of the courthouse going into manholes on the ground floor.
A senior member of staff said he knew of no immediate plans to rid the building of the rats which have been scaring both workers and members of the public and "posing a real health hazard".
"The rats are barefaced enough to be running over the place including offices in the day but the number doubles during the nights and at that time the cockroaches are out crawling all over the place," a member of staff said.
The courthouse has its problem with garbage disposal which helps create a feeding ground for the rats but some members of staff say that some of the rats come from the nearby abandoned Attorney General's building where people dump their garbage.
"They should never have allowed that historic building to descend into a state of disrepair," said Queen's Counsel Patrick Foster, who once worked in the building.
Foster said it was a disgrace and added that he was sad to see the building reduced to a mere shell.
He said successive governments had allowed the building to deteriorate without refurbishing it. Foster expressed concern that the derelict building was going to remain next door to the newly refurbished building which is to be opened soon to house a section of the Supreme Court.
Members of the public have been making enquiries as to the Government's plan for that building which is an eyesore in the city.
When Senator AJ Nicholson was appointed attorney general more than a decade ago, he moved the office to the Mutual Life building on Oxford Road in St Andrew. Squatters immediately took over the building because no security personnel were put in place. After a few months, vandals began removing sections of the building until finally the once elegant building now stands without its red roof, glass windows and doors and is a virtual dumping ground.
According to a member of the judiciary, if the authorities had moved speedily to utilise the building, civil cases could have been held there, instead of large sums of money being paid for offices at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, to keep civil court.