Fri | Dec 1, 2023

Clean up Kingston Harbour!

Published:Friday | November 16, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Photos by Ricardo Makyn, Norman Grindley and ramesh Newell

Jamaica continues to celebrate 50 years of Indepen-dence. We have achieved a lot. However, there is much work left to be done if we are to progress as a country. We must begin to tackle Jamaica's chronic problems in a targeted and sustained way to make this country a better place to live, work and grow families. The Next 50 Years, a special Gleaner series, will spotlight some of the challenges we must fix in the coming years. We want to hear from you. Email us at and join the debate.

JAMAICA IS rightly proud of Kingston Harbour, the seventh-largest natural harbour in the world.

At Independence and for centuries before, Kingston Harbour was an important locus of recreation for the many who lived on its rim, and for the thousands who would commute from far and wide.

Swimming in Kingston Harbour is no longer recommended, as its water has become seriously polluted.

There are four principal sources of contamination: untreated or improperly treated sewage; industrial discharges directly into to the harbour or into waterways draining into the harbour, as well as leaching and runoff from solid waste landfills receiving industrial waste; the dumping of untreated ship wastes; and agricultural runoff.

A step in the right direction is the closing down of the non-functioning and outdated sewage-treatment plants at Western and Greenwich, and the commissioning of the new ponds at Soapberry. However, Soapberry still discharges nutrient-rich effluent into Kingston Harbour, contributing to the nutrient loading. We need to adopt technology, which will restore the full value of Kingston Harbour.

Kingston Harbour can be cleaned up if the pollution dumped into it is substantially reduced. It will be necessary to ban soak-away pits by sewering all of Kingston, and removing nitrates and phosphates before discharging effluent into the harbour. All Jamaica will benefit from a pesticide-reduction programme, and private industry must be urged to comply with international best practices for treating discharges.