J'cans move to save Cockpit Country
Director of communications and public affairs at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Robert Morgan, says the Office of the Prime Minister is happy with the response from the public to the petition portal, which was launched on July 24.
"We are very impressed because we know several petitions have received national attention and we are seeing some very interesting things as it relates to some of the things that some people may not have known were issues of concern," he told THE STAR.
Initially, when the initiative was just launched, a petition required 30,000 signatures within 30 days to have it reviewed by the OPM. However, that has since been amended. A petition now requires 15,000 signatures in 40 days in order to be reviewed.
"We had feedback from many persons who are interested in participating via the portal, and that feedback has caused us to reanalyse our systems and make adjustments to make it a more balanced, situation for persons who are interested in participating in petitioning the Government," Morgan said, in explaining the change.
"If a petition fails, we have to analyse it and look at how many people signed the petition. Is this something that is in the national interest that would require the Government to respond to it? And we would make a decision at that time," he reasoned.
Currently, there are 15 ongoing petitions on the Office of the Prime Minister's website. One which is titled 'Save Cockpit Country' has been the star performer. As of yesterday, 4,034 persons or 26.89 per cent of the 15,000 signatures required have signed the petition.
UNDER IMMEDIATE THREAT
The petitioners say that Jamaica's Cockpit Country is under "immediate threat from bauxite mining, which would remove forest cover, block and pollute waterways, displace residents, threaten agricultural livelihoods, compromise air quality and threaten the health and well-being of thousands of Jamaican citizens".
The petitioners noted that the Cockpit Country is the largest remaining natural forest in Jamaica and that the fresh water it stores and releases via almost 40 rivers, streams, springs, upwellings, glades and ponds supplies about 40 per cent of western Jamaica's water needs. They want the Government to declare the Cockpit Country a protected national Park and to put in place comprehensive measures to ensure its management and conservation for all Jamaicans, including future generations.
Meanwhile, a petition to make Miss Lou a national icon, and to have a life-size statue of her erected at the entrance to Emancipation Park, appears to be on the brink of failure.
The petition needs 15,000 signatures from the public by September 7 to trigger a response from the Office of the Prime Minister. As of yesterday, the petition had only attracted 896 signatures.
LIST OF PETITIONS
- Every hospital should have at least three ambulances.
- Declare Oliver Samuels a national icon.
- Establish a quality of services rating bureau for Jamaican companies.
- Cancel NHT contributions for all mortgagors.
- Introduce a pension plan for all 3JR national reserve soldiers.
- Offer duty concession for hybrid cars
- Amend the Animals Act to allow companion pets.
- Review Jamaican national standardsbased curriculum for the inclusion of Information literacy and school library.
- Declare Homeless People Awareness Week December 18-24 annually.
- Abolish the law that was set to pay past prime ministers the last salary they earned as prime minister.
- Name Edward G Seaga a national hero
- Amend the law to punish criminals with lethal injection or death by electric chair.
- Nationalise Jamaica's coastline.