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StJMC councillors lash NWA for not attending meetings

Published:Saturday | December 10, 2022 | 1:06 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Charles Sinclair.
Charles Sinclair.


Montego Bay Mayor Leeroy Williams intends to speak with Prime Minister Andrew Holness about the National Works Agency’s (NWA) failure to attend St James Municipal Corporation (StJMC) meetings, following complaints raised by councillors on Thursday.

“On this matter of the NWA not attending our meeting, as they are supposed to do, I have spoken to the chief executive officer of the NWA and I have spoken to Minister Everald Warmington and there has been no redress as far as this is concerned,” said Williams.

Warmington, a minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation in the Office of the Prime Minister, has responsibility for the works portfolio.

“I think I will definitely have to speak to the prime minister on this matter,” said Williams, who is the chairman of the StJMC.

“We need to get these agencies to the table because they are not performing as they should. We also need to speak to the higher authorities to tell them they need to work with the municipal corporation and attend their meetings,” Williams added.

The mayor was responding to a concern by Charles Sinclair, councillor for the Montego Bay North East Division, who complained about the agency’s representatives were not present to deliver a report on the cleaning of the city’s North and South gullies, which was presented by the corporation’s superintendent.

“What our superintendent is reporting on with North Gully and South Gully is the responsibility of the NWA. Either the NWA is going to start coming to council meetings and provide reports on the infrastructure that they have under their portfolio, or something else needs to be done about it, but they are one of the critical stakeholders that exist in the parish, and they have an office with officers that operate in the parish, but NWA does not come here,” Sinclair said.

“Whatever policy or directive they are operating under, they need to reverse it and to come here. This is one place in which all the stakeholders are represented and thoughts and ideas can be expressed,” Sinclair added. “They do not come to committee meetings, infrastructure meetings, or council meetings, and it is bad.”

Arthur Lynch, councillor for the Montego Bay South East Division, was also critical as he called for the NWA to address issues such as the lack of proper lighting along the Elegant Corridor between Rose Hall and Ironshore.

“The entire Elegant Corridor is in pitch blackness, and it is a threat to pedestrians and users of the roadway. If we have simple matters to be addressed, and they are not addressing them, when will the NWA take things seriously?” Lynch demanded. “Who must be accountable where the NWA is concerned? We cannot continue like this. We are a city, and we demand better representation from the NWA.”

The NWA had previously come under similar fire from the Hanover Municipal Corporation in September, when that entity’s chairman, Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels, accused the agency of poor performance and called for it to be banished from Hanover and its roles and resources taken over by the corporation.

When contacted, Janel Ricketts, community relations officer for the NWA’s western region, told The Gleaner that the NWA’s management had issued directives concerning attendance at meetings, adding that the StJMC was aware of this.

“We are always available for information, so it is not as if we have shied away. The decision re meetings is one that was made above me, which the municipal corporation is aware of, but our lines of communication are open, so the municipal corporation should have no issue getting in contact with us,” said Ricketts.

“... We are available for any information because even our Traffic Committee still meets, and the corporation is part of that,” she added. “It is just that from a policy standpoint, the monthly [municipal corporation] meeting is not necessarily the meeting we particularly attend, but the issues can be ventilated in another forum ... .”