Fri | Jun 5, 2020

KSAMC councillors channelling all funds towards COVID-19 relief

Published:Friday | May 15, 2020 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Clarke

Councillors in Kingston and St Andrew have put infrastructural development projects in their respective divisions on pause, and have been channelling all funds and attention towards providing care packages of food and other essentials to residents.

The 39 councillors have each received $600,000 from the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) and have shared that they have been formulating new ideas to raise more funds.

Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillor for the Trafalgar division, Kari Douglas, told The Gleaner on Tuesday that residents have come under immense pressure due to COVID-19 guidelines, specifically related to Government’s curfew order to contain the spread of the virus.

“Most people need help, whether it be cash or kind. Whatever resources we would have been allocated has now been redirected to COVID-19 relief. People want food. They don’t want to hear about the fixing of roads and light,” Douglas said, sharing that the funds have only been able to purchase bleach, hand sanitisers and food items.

“Myself and other councillors have been doing private fundraising and have been able to match the amount, or come close to it. All efforts are generally focused on COVID-19 public relief and the sanitisation of public spaces.”

INADEQUATE FUNDS

People’s National Party’s councillor for the Allman Town division, Charmaine Daniels, described the $600,000 allocation as inadequate and, therefore, “we have to be creative and find ways as representatives, because we haven’t heard from the council on whether or not we’ll be getting any further allocation regarding COVID-19”.

Councillor Lee Clarke said his division in Whitehall has several elderly people like himself, who have been instructed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to stay home as best as possible. Therefore, he has had to partner with Karl Samuda, the member of parliament for the area, to go beyond what $600,000 can afford.

“My age group is under strict instructions to stay at home, but I have taken on the responsibility as a councillor, so I have to take the chances and do the work as it is to be done. My division has a lot of elders, and we have to be monitoring them. The main thing now is food and trying to ensure they get that.

“We have just finished a programme with the member of parliament where we gave away at least 200 bags of groceries. That can assist a family of three or four for three weeks,” he said.

Clarke pointed that he doesn’t believe the reopening of bars is a good idea, unless there is proper monitoring.

“All the bars are going to be opened, but I don’t think it is a good idea. I know the behaviour of some of the people, once they smell the bar, them get drunk. It will take discipline to keep the bars going,” he said.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com