Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Ministry is “up to the task” of dealing with any disaster that may affect the country.
He gave the assurance as he addressed the official launch of Local Government and Community Development Month 2019 at Turtle River Park in Ocho Rios, St Ann, recently.
Mr. McKenzie said the Ministry takes no comfort in the fact that Jamaica has not had any major disaster over the past two years, and continues to work to strengthen the country’s preparedness and responsiveness.
He said there is ongoing building of capacity at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the associated organisations that collaborate with the agency in disaster response.
In addition, he noted that work has begun on rehabilitating a number of parochial roads across the island in order to ensure easy access to communities in the event of a disaster.
He said it is estimated that there is excess of $400 million worth of damage to roads across municipalities.
Director General of the ODPEM, Richard Thompson, in his remarks said the agency continues to strengthen institutional mechanisms and capacities to effectively mitigate hazards.
“[We] understand the need to build disaster resilience, thus protecting our economy, and we confirm our continued support to work together to build and shape a resilient country,” he said
A number of activities are being planned to mark Local Government and Community Development Month, including repair work at the St. Elizabeth Infirmary in Santa Cruz on November 13; courtesy calls on the Governor-General, Prime Minister, and Leader of the Opposition on November 15; a youth mayors’ forum at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James on November 20; among other engagements.