Fri | Oct 30, 2020

Labour Day project in St Catherine shut down by police

Published:Monday | May 25, 2020 | 5:52 PM
Residents of Pear Tree Grove and surrounding areas in St Catherine at a community project on May 25, 2020 - Ruddy Mathison photo

Ruddy Mathison, Gleaner Writer

Residents of Pear Tree Grove and surrounding areas in the Troja Division in St Catherine are expressing shock and dismay that they were ordered to discontinue their Labour Day project by the Riversdale Police.

According to residents, the project, which sought to clean two tanks and construct steps to the catchments, was conceived about three months ago and the decision was taken that it would be carried out on Labour Day.

Jahnelle Thomas, speaking on behalf of the residents, told The Gleaner that they were left feeling very upset by the move.

"The tanks need cleaning and we have been having problems for a number of years to gain easy access to the tanks that are below road level. Against this background, we decided as members of the community that we would pool our resources and remedy the problem as a Labour Day project," Thomas said.

"We were shocked when the police arrived and told us that we were acting contrary to the law and ordered that we desist from proceeding with the project," she continued.

Added Thomas, "As far as we were concern we had made all efforts to ensure that we start early so that we could be completed before the curfew starts, and we had ensure that not more than 10 persons were in the group in keeping with established protocol, so I could not see what the problem was."

Thomas said residents were informed by the police that they project did not receive authorisation and so it had to be shutdown.

"When I was informed that the residents were carrying out this project of interfering with municipal corporation water source, unknown to me as the sitting councillor, I immediately contacted the mayor and he informed me that nobody sought authorisation from him and he did not issue any approval for the project," Councillor for the Troja Division William Cytall told The Gleaner.

He said that this information was conveyed to the police which responded and stopped the residents from carrying out the project.

The police declined to comment when contacted by The Gleaner.

Meanwhile, People's National Party caretaker Oswest Senior Smith said he was dismayed by the move to stop the project.

"In my view, this can be seen a normal Labour Day project where citizens pooled their resources to help themselves to effect changes and solve community problems.

"This project is very necessary, very useful and very practical, and it is unfortunate that the project was stopped under the stated circumstances that could easily be addressed by the same phone call made by the councillor. Instead of using his office to help the residents of the division he is playing politics at their expense," Senior Smith charged.

He said he has advised residents to get in touch with the municipal corporation and seek official authorisation so that they can complete the project.

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