It’s been an average sort of week, so far. A little rain here and there, and a few interesting things going on round town.
We have a new Police Commissioner: On Monday morning we got our new Police Commissioner. His name is Carl Williams, and he has been a narcotics man for quite a few years – investigating, that is. He is fifty years old and joined the Jamaica Constabulary Force thirty years ago. He was the founding director of the famous Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA) and also helped set up the Anti-Lottery Scam Task Force (which has been quite successful, especially recently; only today two Chinese nationals and a German were arrested). His appointment was no surprise – at least, not to me. I also believe he has the stamp of approval of our “international partners” – in other words, the United States, UK and Canada, who take a close interest in all security-related matters in Jamaica, as we know. And I think he may be the best man for the job – but time will tell. It’s performance that counts.
A political bug: Well, the mosquitoes bearing the chikungunya virus seem to have acquired green stripes, somewhere along the way. The Opposition Jamaica Labour Party has been accused of “politicizing” the issue, and to some extent this may be true. Our current Health Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson (who I discovered is actually a dentist by training) called former Health Minister Dr. Kenneth Baugh’s pronouncements on the matter “alarmist” during a radio interview. He thinks Dr. Baugh (who is a medical doctor) is “embellishing” the facts, somewhat. There is still an enormous amount of confusion among the general public – that is for sure. The Health Ministry has handled the matter clumsily, when all it needed was to get the facts out clearly from the start – symptoms, treatment, keeping mosquitoes away, etc. But in its efforts not to create panic it has managed to obfuscate the issue beautifully. We all know people who are suffering from the virus (or at least who appear to have the symptoms) but are not reporting to the doctor (which costs money after all). The Ministry also talks about not confusing it with dengue fever, leptospirosis – even the flu. The media has been swamped this week with discussions about fogging (are mosquitoes becoming resistant to the active ingredient, malathion?) – or in the case of our neighborhood, the lack of fogging and lack of garbage collection!
Awash in raw sewage: We uptowners complain about these trivialities, but we don’t have raw sewage flowing in mini-waterfalls and collecting in ponds like Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston. If you do a quick Google search, you will see that this is by no means a new phenomenon. It has been a recurring problem for years in the inner-city community. Television footage showed Member of Parliament Desmond McKenzie and colleagues having to hop over the sewage as they stepped out of his constituency office. Shame on you, National Water Commission!
And choking in plastic: The downtown neighborhood of Seaview Gardens is another that has suffered for years from an enormous pile up of garbage, which fills the gully that empties into the sea not far from the community. You will notice a stench also, as soon as you enter the community; whether it is from another malfunctioning sewage issue, from the swampy land nearby or from the gully, it’s hard to tell – but it’s probably all of the above. I suppose there’s not a hope in hell of the gully ever being cleaned. It would be a huge task.
But then, it’s only poor people living in these places, right? Low priority, or so it always seems…
Public health issues? Well, it seems that despite (or because of) our success with the International Monetary Fund, we have no resources to deal with them. This is the “bitter medicine” of which Opposition Leader Andrew Holness spoke just before the last general elections. No one liked him for saying it, but…
Fire boats, ambulances and other necessities: Meanwhile, the island’s only fire boat has been out of action for about a year, but should be fixed soon, we are assured. And Negril reportedly still has no ambulance of any description, whether for tourists or for local residents.
Police killings down, but… INDECOM reports that our security forces have killed an average of three people per week so far this year – a total of 96. Although this is significantly less than in 2013, the numbers are still very high and disproportionate to the population and the size of our police force.
Policeman charged with murder: Police Corporal Selvin Williams was arrested and charged this week with the December 2012 murder of Valbert Salmon by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM). Valbert was shot dead on December 29, 2012 in Top Hill, St. Elizabeth.
Street walking: One of our well-known television reporters, Nadine McLeod of Television Jamaica, has an adventurous streak in her. She donned a wig and tight skirt and sallied out onto the infamous “Back Road” (the Port Henderson Road in St. Catherine), where brothels and go-go clubs proliferate. You can watch her reports, headlined “Business on Back Road,” on TVJ’s website. To be continued…
Major kudos are due to…
The bright young graduates of Phase Three Production’s thirtieth anniversary free summer workshops on videography, who had their graduation ceremony and a special visit to meet Governor General Sir Patrick Allen this week. The workshops were endorsed by Sir Patrick’s “I Believe” Initiative. I hope all the young people’s dreams and ambitions come true! They are dreaming big…
Sad to say, the police have killed at least four Jamaicans in the past week or so. My condolences to all those who are mourning.
Dadrian Davis, Garveymeade/Portmore, St. Catherine (killed by police)
Okeelie Brown, Garveymeade/Portmore, St. Catherine (killed by police)
Unidentified man, Port Henderson Road, St. Catherine
Felicia Sutherland, 25, Burnside/Red Hills, St. Andrew -employee of RJR
Daryl Lodge, 52, Burnside/Red Hills, St. Andrew – U.S. Citizen
Eldon Calvert, 31, Salt Spring, St. James
Clayton Whyte, 51, Green Pond, St. James
Marlon Davidson, 31, Junction, St. Elizabeth
Irving Drummond, 47, Old Buckfield, St. Ann
Peter Wallis, Clarendon