A plea for water - Portia's constituents want relief
Residents of Norman Lane, Kingston 13 say they have been plagued by a chronic water shortage for years. John Bell, who has lived in the community since 1969, says that the residents have to travel long distances to fetch water or purchase scarce commodity.
"No water no deh a pipe and all now. Right now the area inna bad condition with water. The whole area, anyweh yu go, yu see people a buy water," he said.
Bell further told THE STAR that residents have lengthy periods of time without water and when water comes into their pipes it is for short time.
"We have to pay either $600 or $800 to full one drum. The guys dem weh have the carts and whole heap a bucket, dem go and ketch it anyweh dem can get it, even as far as to Maxfield. Even me, a cart me affi cart water," Bell said.
The journey to fetch water is made even more difficult when there are violent flare ups. According to Angella Bentley, "all when war a gwaan yu still affi a push cart and look out fi gunshot."
Norman Lane falls in Portia Simpson Miller's South West St Andrew constituency. The area is represented at the local government level by Eugene Kelly, councillor for the Whitfield Town Division.
"I am aware of the issue. The Norman Lane, Cookhorn Lane, Kidd Lane and some other areas along that stretch on Spanish Town Road are suffering from water problems. We have regular water problems annually and it gets worse when it comes down to the summer months. The NWC classifies that area as red zone. It doesn't get that level of primacy, as it should," Kelly said.
According to Councillor Kelly, both himself and the MP have been in constant communication with water NWC to find a solution. Many of the residents have no legal claim to the properties on which they live.
" As it relates to the issue of bill payment, I have met with the NWC over the years to say that many of the residents are willing to pay. There are some legal issues as it relates to how we deal with water payments and the bill and the name that needs to be on the bill whether it should to be the landowners. Many of these landowners have either died or left the country many years ago. Those issue impact the current residents ability to have their names on bill," Kelly said.
But even as the councillor lobbies on behalf of the residents, the reality of being forced to bathe from buckets is one which Bell wants to disappear.
"Mi can't tell when mi bathe under shower unless me go somewhere go work and me bathe a people place. Over three year now we no have no water inna bathroom fi bathe," Bell said.
Similarly, Bentley told THE STAR that being without water is a challenge, especially for women and children.
"No water no in yah. Yu want send yu pickney go a school and fi all a two weeks straight yu can't send dem," she said.