UPDATE: Roadblocks mar school reopening
The opening of the new school term was marred this morning by at least three roadblocks. The worst was in St James where people were protesting over the lack of water.
East Central St. James, Member of Parliament, Edmund Bartlett says the decision by landowner Richard Vernon to lock off the National Water Commission (NWC) pump in Irwin, St James, is wrong.
Vernon made good on a threat that he would shut down the pump that pumps water from the well on his Irwin Dale property.
As a result, several residents are without water.
This led to a protest in St James which caused several students to return home.
The residents used tyres, old furniture and debris to block the roads leading into the city of Montego Bay from Irwin.
But Bartlett says a landowner cannot just lock off the water on his land.
Bartlett says Vernon should have negotiated a legal agreement and charge for access since he does not own the water.
He says the community should not be held ransom because of this unresolved situation between Vernon and the NWC.
The MP said the NWC has set up a meeting with the community for Thursday.
He said Minister of Water, Robert Pickersgill is expected to announce a definitive position as well.
This morning several students were forced to return home as the roads leading into Montego Bay from Sign Irwin, Porto Bello and Irwin Dale were been blocked by angry residents.
There were also reports of protests over the deplorable road conditions in the Rio Grande valley in Portland, which led to some taxi operators withdrawing their services.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Grace McLean, said there were also reports other roadblocks and of a school being padlocked because the pit latrine was clogged.
According to the Permanent Secretary, despite the issues, schools in four of the six regions got off to a smooth start.
She said there were also initial reports of road blockages in Region Three, but those roads have since been cleared, allowing students access to their schools.
McLean said interim measures are in place to deal with the furniture shortage at 10 schools throughout the country.
She said the furniture was ordered but it did not arrive in time for the new school term.