June 22, 2016
Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer Jacqueline Watson, a resident of Phoenix Vista in Portmore, St Catherine, shows a pool of sewage water in her yard.
Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer Juliet Campbell pours Jeyes into a pool of smelly water at the back of her house in Phoenix Vista, Portmore, St Catherine.
Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer The entrance to the Phoenix Vista community in Portmore, St Catherine.

As you travel into the community of Phoenix Vista in Portmore, St Catherine, an unpleasant scent welcomes you. This is because the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) has, for some time, failed to pump away sewage from a central collection facility, resulting in the effluent escaping to form a cesspool that has been making life miserable for the residents.

Jacqueline Watson, who showed THE STAR a nasty pool of smelly water, said the problem has been a longstanding one for residents of Phoenix Vista.

"For four years now I have been affected," Watson said.

"Sometimes the water comes very high, and you see condoms and all kinda something inna the water that coming in on my house," she explained.

Watson said that the overflowing of the water is at its worst on weekends because a pump, which is supposed to take the effluent from the central tank, is turned out at that time.

"A weekend time, it high and it reach up on my verandah at the front causing us to be marooned in," she added.

Another resident complained that her one-month-old grandson had to be hospitalised because of the negative effect of the nasty water.

"The baby nuh stop vomit and have diarrhea since him come from hospital [after birth] because the stench make him develop a stomach infection," she said.

Some residents said that because of the lackluster approach of the authorities to remedy the problem they have been forced to deal with it themselves.

"I throw kerosene oil in it, bleach powder, throw Jayes and it only help for a time," one resident said.


Specific timeline


Watson and her neighbours said they have been unable to get a specific timeline for the end to their discomfort.

HAJ's engineer, Gregory Williams, who is responsible for the sewage issue in the company, said the pump within the community is the source of the problem.

"The pump is down. We are trying to get it fixed, but it is taking some time because these things take a while to fix," he explained.

He said, too, that the pump has been out for only two weeks even though residents allege that an out-of-service pump is a recurring decimal for Phoenix Vista residents.

Williams, meanwhile, told THE STAR that the residents in the community are partly to be blamed for the problem.

"We are having some problems with the levels of the disposal of sanitary napkins, pampers and condoms in the toilet which is causing the blockage in the pump," he said.

President of the Phoenix Vista Citizen's Association, Garnett Murray said majority of persons living in the 120 homes in the area are affected by the smell.

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