Raising a stink - Public urination irks west's mayors
Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator
Western Jamaica's mayors say they are still grappling with the issue of persons, particularly men, using areas within the streets of their respective townships as makeshift urinals and causing offensive odours and public-health hazards.
North Lane, located adjacent to Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay, is one the affected areas, and this has resulted in complaints from pedestrians who use the roadway about the stench of stale urine which permeates the area. But Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris, said it will not be long before perpetrators are caught and prosecuted as surveillance cameras are being installed across the Second City.
"With the cameras around, we are going to be naming and shaming some people. Because there are public sanitary facilities available - you have at the amphitheatre; you have at the clock; you have at the civic centre that we (Parish Council) operate," Harris told Western Focus on Wednesday.
"Business places need to have sanitary conveniences for their customers - which is one of the problems that we are tackling. Because, let's say you go into the bank, they will tell you that they don't have any sanitary convenience for customers to use, so that is where the breakdown is. Supermarkets, restaurants, bars, banks, you name it - they should have sanitary conveniences for their customers. So that is it. But the nasty culture that we have in Jamaica, where we have no pride, is another thing. People just do what they want to do anywhere," he said.
He added: "We going to name and shame and prosecute. Our public sanitary conveniences are maintained and they are strategically located - one to the east, one to the west and one in the centre (of the city)," he said.
Under the National Solid Waste Management Public Cleansing Regulation, persons can be prosecuted for urinating in public spaces and fined $2,000. The regulation falls under sections 46 to 48 of the National Solid Waste Management Act of 2001.
Over in Trelawny, Mayor Garth Wilkinson said wayward persons were still using fences and light posts as urinals, despite adequate sanitary facilities being in place.
"Falmouth is one of the few towns that have a public sanitary convenience. It is well organised and in a strategic location in the centre of the town. That does not say that we do not grapple with the issue of persons using the street corner or the light post and everywhere else rather than where they should. I think we are the only town that has to do a wash down on a monthly basis, because we are below sea level, and just the way persons use the streets," Wilkinson said.
"It is all a problem of education. It is all a mindset change. We had persons going around and fining people $2,000. I actually (as mayor) had employed persons to do that at various stages, but it was not sustainable and I can't afford to pay them," he added.
Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Bertel Moore said while the Westmoreland Parish Council operates a facility along Great George Street in the town, there was still a need for more. He said while the public-urination problem was not as severe as the other parishes, he was still concerned that persons choose to use the streets as urinals.
"We have a few sanitary conveniences. We could do well with some more, but the location is one of our biggest problems because we do not have many properties along Great George Street, and this is where you would need it than anywhere else. There is one at the back of Rose Street, which is just a chain away from Great George Stree," Moore said.
"To be honest, I don't think we have it that bad on Great George Street, maybe because persons will do it (urinate) on the back street. As a matter of fact, we acquired a property recently (along Great George Street) and it is one of the things we are thinking about," he explained.
The town of Lucea is perhaps most severely affected by the problem of public urination as persons choose to use, among other places, walls within the town to relieve themselves. One resident, Donald Campbell, pinpointed at least five spots in the town, including the edge of the Lucea Municipal Bus Park, where persons have 'converted' into unofficial urinals.
It is a problem Mayor Wynter McIntosh says he is well aware of. Like his counterparts, he said public education and prosecution are the only solutions to the problem.
"It is the same thing here in Lucea, where, males in particular, use the back of buildings and the light posts to pass their urine. It is something that I am discussing with my municipal police. We have to find a way to stop our men from urinating on the corners and light posts. We have to do some public education and the municipal police and the Jamaica Constabulary Force will have to be more vigilant. Also, the citizens themselves have to take a little more pride. We have to get probably one or two municipal police to patrol that area (municipal bus park) and to start ticketing and prosecuting those persons who continue to do this," he said.