Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Harbour View sewerage fixed at JET speed

Published:Tuesday | January 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

For the first time in more than 30 years, there is no raw or partially treated sewage going into the sea or Kingston Harbour from the Harbour View Sewage Plant, thanks to Diana McCaulay, the Jamaica Environment Trust, their legal team and members of the Harbour View community who were persistent over decades of undelivered promises, bullying and negligence.

A special big-up to Ms McCaulay, who never gave up, and the brave Harbour View community members who put their names on to the 2010 lawsuit that forced the Government of Jamaica to fix the malfunctioning sewage plant.

The sewage plant, which was built in the 1960s, very quickly failed to function and became more and more derelict, pooling sewage near to the community and causing noxious fumes, which frequently closed schools, churches and other community-gathering places and limited access to the beach where the sewage gathered and flowed into the sea.

Community members who paid for sewage treatment were told not to complain because they were receiving the service by it being removed from their homes. One young community member who is signatory to the lawsuit was told not to meddle in 'big people business'.

And if you have read news reports over the decades, you will see politician after politician promising to fix the problem while delivering nothing.

It was not until JET sued the Government, that the sewage plant was fixed in a transparent manner. JET and the community had regular tours of the facility and received timely reports on progress towards meeting the goal of fully functioning sewage plant.

Harbour View's Sewage Plant is now the best-quality plant in Jamaica and it must be maintained at this level.

Imagine if Jamaican governments treated their citizens not as nuisances, 'little people' and adversaries, but actually provided the services, oversight and enforcement that they are supposed to provide. Imagine if the Government did not fight a committed organisation like JET but instead enforced its own laws and practised the highest environmental standards so that the people of Jamaica could have their constitutional right to a healthy environment.

The malfunctioning Harbour View Sewage Plant was one of the horrendous public health disasters that Diana McCaulay was shown that led her to start the Jamaica Environment Trust in 1991. It is time that her work in defence of Jamaica and the Jamaican people be properly recognised.

ESTHER FIGUEROA (PhD)

Gordon Town, St Andrew

mediavagabond@gmail.com