Wed | Jun 7, 2023

Letter of the Day | Use NWC strike to assess readiness for disasters

Published:Friday | May 13, 2022 | 12:06 AM


It is my view that the strike by the National Water Commission (NWC) would have been wasted, if it is not used to assess the country’s readiness to deal with major natural disasters such as hurricanes, major earthquakes and/or major failures in the ability of the Jamaica Public Service Company to provide electricity.

I would propose that an audit be done to see how well our hospitals, health centres, police stations, correctional facilities, schools, government agencies coped with the water lock-off. If possible, Percy Junor Hospital, which has piped NWC water along with rainwater harvesting capacity, could be used as a type of datum/benchmark for measurement.

After and during any major natural disaster, it is critical to have the emergency services such hospitals, the police, etc., up and running even if it is with some reduction in the services being offered.

Based on the audit, you may find it necessary to see to the construction of rainwater harvesting tanks under the car parks of all major hospitals, at our prisons, at Up Park Camp in the first instance, and after that at all the public schools, ministries, health centres and other similar locations.

This rainwater harvesting infrastructure development programme could be coupled with the prime minister’s vision of increasing training opportunities for the youth in the field of construction, which would allow for the attainment of both objectives at the same time. Finally, the possibility of the National Housing Trust to provide low-interest loans to homeowners to construct rainwater harvesting systems could be explored.

I do pray and hope that the strike by the National Water Commission workers will be utilised in such a way as to advance our preparation to deal with major disasters. I would also like to believe that the Ministry of Tourism, and the agencies responsible for call centre operations, should be carrying out a similar exercise