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The struggle for common people to get justice

Published:Thursday | November 22, 2012 | 12:00 AM


At an association meeting of the Cooreville Gardens Citizens' Association in early 2009, it was brought to our attention that the sewerage of the nearby Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) premises was connected to ours. A big 'no' erupted.

Four years earlier, in November 2005, an association meeting was held, at which we the residents of Cooreville Gardens had rejected a request by JPS to connect its sewerage to the sewerage pump in Cooreville.

The reason for our objection was the occasional malfunctioning of the pump, which causes the flushing of toilets to be affected. Faeces pour into our backyards and the foul odour is unbearable. This significantly affects the residents of Ken Boothe Close and a section of Bob Marley Boulevard. In order to use our backyards, we have to resort to laying pipes to channel the faeces into the gully.

As a resident of Ken Boothe Close, I had discussions in our association meeting, which has been attended by our member of parliament, Anthony Hylton, and our councillor, Kevin Taylor.

A National Water Commission (NWC) administrative manager made a three-way contact with Patrick Daley and me. Mr Daley said a few things in NWC's defence. I told him the reasons for our objection to JPS's sewerage system being connected to ours.

NWC punched a hole in the wall between both premises and ran a sewage pipe on private property in Cooreville to connect it to the pump.

The president of our citizens' association told us that NWC said the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) had given it permission to connect JPS's sewerage system to Cooreville's.

On August 20, 2009, Town Clerk Errol Greene said the KSAC had not given NWC any such permission.

Months earlier, on April 14, 2009, I had visited the Office of the Public Defender, and an officer there pledged to give support.

problems aplenty

Problems started with the meeting of the first investigator, who seemed not to be interested in the case. This investigator had spent more time investigating me than anything else. He came to Cooreville Gardens while the pump had been malfunctioning for weeks. He was taking pictures, so I asked him to take a picture of the sewage gushing from an overflow section to the gully, but he did not, choosing instead to take my photograph, which I was not aware of until I visited the office.

There is an overflow device which prevents sewage from going back into JPS's system, but we have no protection, which exacerbates our problems.

On October 8, 2010, a different investigator from the Office of the Public Defender called to say NWC had stated in a letter that KSAC had given it the green light for the connection. I countered that Mr Greene had told Mr Taylor and me that the KSAC had given no such permission. I showed Mr Witter a video of sewage in the gully and sewage running from a resident's home into the gully.

I was again informed by an investigator on July 20, 2011 that the KSAC replied in writing saying it gave no permission for the connection. The investigator said he would study the clause and write to the NWC. To my surprise, when I called on August 2, 2011, the investigator said he had written to KSAC and not NWC.

I wrote a letter to the Office of the Public Defender on August 22, 2011 and got no reply. I called inquiring about the letter and was told it was given to the investigator whose very action I was questioning.

On January 27, 2012, I contacted the investigator, who claimed, this time, that NWC had written saying it had received permission from the KSAC for the sewage connection.

I have called the Office of the Public Defender several times over several months, the last call being on May 22, 2012. There has been no satisfactory update.

We the citizens of Cooreville need the same 'justice' that JPS and NWC received. We are not giving up our rights.

There are too many double standards in Jamaica. One law for the rich and one for the poor. The poorer class of people must stand up for their rights. Many people who should be helping us to get justice, they are the ones trying to fool and frustrate us. They talk down to us, and when we won't give in, they behave annoyed.

This is a matter of principle that drives me to stand up for justice for us, the poorer class of people.


Ken Boothe Close

Cooreville Gardens