Kingston, August 23, 2016 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has instructed the Jamaica National Heritage Trust to see that no further damage is done to the clock tower in Half Way Tree which was the scene of a fire this morning.
Minister Grange said she was “grateful that no-one was hurt in the fire” but expressed “concern over damage to iconic clock”.
The initial report from the JNHT team which assessed the damage to the site indicated that there appeared to be no major damage to the tower, however, the clock itself was exposed to the fire. Other assessments will be done.
Minister Grange said the JNHT must now do whatever is necessary to protect the tower from any exposure that may do additional damage.
For such an iconic landmark to be so neglected speaks volumes of how we treat with our past. Since 1913 this land mark has been a symbol of our society, standing tall and being on guard.
Alas! We are now shedding crocodile tears although we have shown scant regard to this land mark. Reports are that a person of unsound mind was able to burn accumulated garbage in the clock tower.
This neglect did not happen overnight … this. build up took months if not years.
Today a team of welders etc. should be installing a secured door and grille to secure the structure. Has this been done? When will it happen?
Garvey reminded us that a people without a heritage are doomed … Is Garvey right? He may be very right.
If this structure has to be torn down, Half-Way-Tree Ja. W.I. will not be the same. We hope not.
Over to you Culture minister Grange.
Commentary by Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie – Senior International Correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.