Councillor for the Linstead Division in St Catherine North West, Herbert Garriques, has refuted claims that he and other members of the People’s National Party (PNP) did not take the necessary action in helping protesting residents to address a sewage overflow that affected the Rosemount area of Linstead.
His declaration comes as Jamaica Labour Party candidate in the constituency, Newton Amos, suggested that the matter was resolved solely based on his intervention. Amos also accused the elected representatives – all from the PNP – of generally poor representation in the seat.
Garriques, in an interview with The Beacon, said he is not disputing the fact that Amos may have helped to have the sewage matter addressed.
But he made it clear that he, along with Member of Parliament Robert ‘Bobby’ Pickersgill, also intervened and contacted the necessary authorities to have the problem alleviated, notwithstanding the fact that the sewage issue existed on a private housing development.
Garriques claimed that he had been making representation before the residents protested last week Friday and Monday of this week.
He explained: “Once it (the raw sewage overflow) was brought to my attention, I went there, took pictures of it and all of that. I called the Public Health Authority; I called the Member of Parliament; I called the mayor who told me that they would have called the relevant authorities. Days passed, weeks passed and it didn’t happen.
“The people decided that they were going to have a peaceful demonstration last week Friday. They went and they actually blocked the road, and the police came. The police were kinda in sympathy with them when they came and realized the stench and sewerage water that was running out on the road,” Garriques further told The Beacon.
He stated that, amid the protest, he again contacted Pickersgill, who said he would have consulted the National Water Commission (NWC) for assistance.
Garriques said Pickersgill informed him that the President of NWC, Mark Barrett, had promised to send an engineer to examine the problem.
“None came last week Friday; none came Saturday; and none came Sunday. So, Monday morning the people went back out there [to protest],” Garriques added.
He said he was at the scene of the protest last week Friday to support the residents, adding that he was unable to stay there on Monday because he had a meeting to attend.
Garriques stated that, on Monday when the residents resumed their protest, he again contacted Pickersgill and informed him that the promised help from the NWC did not arrive.
He added: “Mr Pickersgill called [me] back to say he spoke with Mr Barnett [from the NWC]and Mr Barnett said he was going to send not an engineer now; he was going to send the cesspool [truck]. Amos probably contacted the NWC too.”
Garriques further stated that the NWC truck eventually arrived in Rosemount – perhaps coincidentally, while Amos was there holding talks with residents.
“Mr Amos is now making it out to look like he was the one who came there and did all of that [action to remedy the situation]. It’s not Amos that came there and let anything happen; Bobby was on top of it. The only thing is that Bobby didn’t go there as how Amos went there,” Garriques continued.
“I was there last Friday with the people, sympathizing with them. I was there Monday morning early, but had to leave to attend parish council meeting. That’s the only reason I wasn’t there when the truck came,” he further said.
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