MICHAEL MILLER has clear memories of the days when he would join friends in climbing on to the boats or ferries in the Kingston Harbour and dive from the highest point they could climb to.
"In a the early days when we used to take the ferry go Port Royal, it used to dock on one side (near the craft market), and when that get destroyed, it start docking up here (close to King Street)," Miller told The Gleaner with a nostalgic look on his face.
"Dem time, mi was 15 or 16 and we used to jump off the ferry. Now mi a 44 year old, so a long time ago mi a tell you 'bout," he added.
"Before I could swim, I nearly drown down here after me fall off a tube. It was just some good childhood days. And I never even used to live downtown. I used to live uptown, but I would come down here."
Miller has clear memories of the board docks where the ferry would anchor and the crystal-clear water he would dive into.
"Now it destroyed bad, bad, bad. I used to catch fish down here and now I'm planning to carry my kids down here to show them where I had fun as a child."
According to Miller, the area needs more upliftment, including the return of the ferry and the cleaning of the harbour.
The need for the rehabilitation of the harbour has been placed back on the front burner in recent months with more events being staged on the waterfront.
"You know how much things would change if them just clean up the waterfront?" asked downtown Kingston resident Maxine Campbell more than three months ago.
"The Government just don't care enough or dem would find the money to fix the harbour and mek the cruise ship start coming back to Kingston," added Campbell as persons around her supported the position.
The call by the residents for measures to clean up the Kingston Harbour echoes that of businessman James Moss-Solomon, who, last year, warned that any plan to redevelop downtown Kingston would fail if the harbour was not addressed.
"Kingston - as a city combining business and residential properties - cannot exist without a clean harbour," Moss-Solomon told The Gleaner.
NOT MUCH BEING DONE
For more than 20 years, the need to clean up the harbour has been accepted by the political leadership, but few concrete measures have been taken.
The Kingston Harbour is one of the largest natural harbours in the world.
However, it is accepted that at present, the full value of the harbour is not being maximised, as the water quality has been badly degraded because of pollution and the surrounding land area has also deteriorated in many places.
It is also accepted that the clean-up of the harbour will require the combined efforts of multiple stakeholders to address the various sources of contamination to the harbour.
In 1996, the then government, working with international agencies, created what was dubbed 'An Integrated Investment Plan for the Rehabilitation of Kingston Harbour'.
That was followed by a 2003 plan labelled 'Institutional Strengthening for Enhanced Environmental Management of Kingston Harbour'.
This was expected to result in a physical development master plan for Kingston Harbour with measures to improve the environmental performance of industries discharging into the harbour.
But years later, the harbour remains polluted while some residents put their lives and the lives of others at risk by swimming and fishing in the water.