Kingston Gleaner (Newspaper) - March 14, 2015, Kingston, Kingston ON FEBRUARY 7, 2015, I attended the funeral service of my father- in- law and then accompanied his funeral procession to the Brown’s Town Cemetery, St Ann, for his interment. What a surprise awaited us! I suppose I have been away too long and had really not had any occasion to go to that cemetery for about 11 years. The road to the graveside could barely be called a road; it was a mixture of huge potholes and unpaved surfaces. In fact, a number of family members only narrowly escaped twisting their ankles as we risked limbs and other body parts while wending our way to the site of the newly made vault. It was obvious that the cemetery had not been cleaned for a long time. There was rubbish everywhere; graves were overgrown with the grass and weeds that had taken over; and in general the cemetery was in a very unkempt condition. Obviously, there was no attempt to maintain the cemetery. It was indeed a sad experience for me as I do recall the days when the Brown’s Town Cemetery was a place where you felt the graves of your loved ones would be cared for with the dignity and respect they deserved. Can the St Ann Parish Council look into what needs to be done to return this cemetery to a place of dignity? Will the council take steps to fix this? ONCE AGAIN, the Riverton City municipal dump ( as opposed to a sanitary landfill) is burning out of control. Successive governments have continued to ignore the technical information that has been produced from studies and reports spanning decades. Almost 20 years ago as a young environmental consultant, I was part of a team contracted to do an analysis of the country’s solid waste management situation. Our report provided several recommendations, none of which I will list here, as I am sure you will be receiving other contributions on this. This particular study was funded through international funds ( possibly a loan) and the results were largely ignored, as too were other studies that preceded it, as well as those that came after. I have written previously on the social and economic impacts of refusing to utilise science- based decision making as part of public policy. We are still reeling from the effects of the mishandled chik- V outbreak. The dump fire is another example of how expensive it can be ( human and financial costs) when we continue to ignore balanced scientific and technical advice. Our universities, research institutes and government technocrats should immediately begin calculating the costs to human health, the national economy and productivity for this current event. This event should again serve as a teachable moment, but sadly, I cannot help being sceptical. As a Jamaican environmental professional, I have become really, really tired of saying “ I told you so” when things like this occur. Knowledge send us, Heavenly Father, grant true wisdom from above. I WOULD like to bring to your attention the appalling conditions of the hospital service in Jamaica. My dad has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of bone cancer. The treatment he has received since his diagnosis has been absolutely atrocious. Each time he goes for an appointment, it’s either they have misplaced his file or he has to spend the entire day sitting and waiting while the nurses do nothing. There has been no bed sheets or toilet paper available in the hospital. How can the hospital not possess the necessities to care for its patients? The porters refuse to take him to the ward if there is no tip. His blood needed to be tested and the phlebotomist asked if he didn’t have any money to give her. He had to give $ 500 to ensure his blood was taken in sufficient time. How can someone working in a hospital require a tip to do a job they are already paid to do? The worst of it is, he has been unable to get medication in the hospital, as it’s not available there. My mom was told she needs to source it herself. How can a hospital not be able to provide medication for its patients? If the medication is not available, shouldn’t the hospital be responsible for sourcing it? The patient is ill, after all. He has cancer for crying out loud! Are they going to sit and watch while my dad dies because he doesn’t have the money to go private? I am absolutely appalled that this behaviour is allowed to take place in the hospital! Where is the duty of care? My dad has worked all his life, paid his taxes, and now that he is unable to work, the country that he loves and dedicated his life to has abandoned him! I am bringing this to your attention in the hope that these issues can be highlighted and given the necessary attention it requires. I am also hoping this will give the government and the Ministry of Health the push they need to take some action. This should not be happening at all in Jamaica. Urgent action is required. ‘ THE MORE things change, the more they remain the same’ is a truism in Jamaica. Let’s recall the transportation woes in the early 1990s between St Catherine and Kingston. Fast- forward to 2015. There is now Highway 2000, a development intended to make it easier to commute and help to boost productivity. But sadly, we are losing the gains. Why? The many new housing developments located in St Catherine and Clarendon, with residents who commute to work in Kingston, have made the Mandela Highway a bottleneck. Commuting through St Catherine into Kingston at peak hours has become an expensive, time- wasting feat because exiting the toll road ( and other roads) to the Mandela Highway is a major problem. The commuters coming through Central Village, already on the ‘ snail trail’, share a similar plight. They may be a little better off because they do not pay $ 330 or $ 120, but we all share the petrol waste and frustration. In the evenings, driving from the Washington Boulevard and Spanish Town Road on to Mandela Highway can be equally frustrating but may not always be as bad as in the mornings. I use the toll road daily to get to work. It is now taking anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes to exit the toll road on to the Mandela Highway. Once you creep to Mandela; it takes another 15 to 20- minute crawl to Six Miles. This situation is worsened by pedestrians and students crossing to and from the Jamaica Urban Transit Company bus lane, which also merges further along the thoroughfare. PRODUCTIVITY LOST How productive and energyefficient can we be if thousands of people who have to commute daily have to sit for hours on the highways between 6 a. m. and 9 a. m. and 5 p. m. and 8 p. m.? All the billions of dollars spent on the highways are wasted if one is able to travel from Old Harbour 15 minutes or from Moneague in 20 minutes, only to sit for another half- hour waiting to exit on to the Mandela Highway. It would no doubt be worse without Highway 2000, but progress includes long- term infrastructure planning. With the situation as it is, I was horrified when I read a statement from the National Road Operating and Constructing Company ( NROCC) in which I learned that the next phase of Highway 2000 will possibly join the Mandela Highway somewhere in the vicinity of the Caymanas Estate or Portmore intersections. What will traffic be like when this happens? “ The Mandela Highway is a mass parking lot at peak hours,” someone wrote recently. I want to ask the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing and NROCC: What are the plans to upgrade the roller- coaster obstacle course that unfortunately bears the great Nelson Mandela’s name? ( I do not mean the irregular patching that results in the description above). Second, won’t the traffic be worse when the southbound leg of the North South Highway hits the Mandela Highway? Can it be widened to three lanes ( east and west) to better allow easier merging from the highways? The Government and its technocrats must look for a solution to this problem if we are serious about Vision 2030. THE GLEANER, SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 2015 • www. jamaica- gleaner. com • gleanerjamaica • jamaicagleaner • FEATURE A5 Tell us about the positives and negatives affecting your community, school or any other social space. Email submissions to letters@ gleanerjm. com . Co- opt CHEC to secure dump, fight fires YET AGAIN, the residents of the Corporate Area and adjoining areas are forced to suffer the deleterious effects of what appears to have become an annual fire at the Riverton City dump, not to mention the national economy. What is most distressing is the National Solid Waste Management Authority, its portfolio minister, and the Government appear to be incompetent to protect the dump from fires and to extinguish them quickly if and when they occur. How else can the regular recurrence of these fires and the struggle to control them each time be explained? It is my understanding that the Ferry River runs alongside the dump. Since the responsible agencies are unable to find a cure to this problem, why not engage China Harbour Engineering Company ( CHEC) to devise a system for securing the dump and installing a system to quickly extinguish fires, using water from the Ferry River? CHEC has proven itself capable of finding and delivering solutions within budget and time. Why not try them? CONCERNED JAMAICAN Myja82@ yahoo. com SIMONE PALMER palmersimone@ hotmail. com LURLINE CUMMINGS lurlinec16@ gmail. com LURLINE CUMMINGS lurlinec16@ gmail. com ANNETTE M. GILZENE ( EdD) amgilzene@ ca. rr. com Los Angeles, California Brown’s Town Cemetery a disgrace Appalling conditions in hospital service That Mandela parking lot Riverton dump – I told you so GLADSTONE TAYLOR/ PHOTOGRAPHER Smoke from the Riverton City dump billows across the city on Thursday. Jennifer Edwards, head of the National Solid Waste Management Authority, which manages the dump, said about half of the more- than- 100- acre property had caught fire.