Home » News »
KSAC - the limping giant
Vernon Daley, Staff Reporter
During the lead-up to the Local Government elections, both
the Government and the Opposition have sought to attract more
capable candidates to run in the elections. Part of this effort
is to have persons who can make the transition from being
councillors to representatives at the national level.
ACTORS within the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC),
have not minced words in a damning condemnation of the corporation's
failure to adequately deliver on its mandate.
cited for the underperformance are varied but lead back to
the same inescapable conclusion: the KSAC is a limping giant,
badly in need of increased resources, better councillors and
Errol Greene, who spoke to The Gleaner earlier this year said
there is need "for drastic reform" to the KSAC to
improve its capability to carry out its functions. One of
the greatest needs right now he said, is for "better
qualified persons who can think smarter and manage smarter."
to him, there is also need for more cash support from central
Government to give the KSAC a jump start to help it carry
out some of its functions, such as maintaining markets, cleaning
drains and ensuring compliance with building codes.
all, he argued, the KSAC is still trying to recover from the
1980s when the Local Government system was stripped of its
functions and its best staff and equipment cannibalised.
the functions were handed back, they were handed back without
the relevant support," he said. It's difficult to run
markets that are losing about $20 million per year, he added.
Desmond McKenzie, who is also the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)
councillor for the Tivoli Gardens Division, is clear in his
mind that the KSAC has not done a good job. He agreed that
the shortage of qualified technical staff is a major setback.
However, for him, the problem also touches on the failure
of the political actors.
far from flattering in his comments about the stewardship
of mayor Marie Atkins who, he argues, has not provided the
leadership necessary to give the KSAC the energy to make sensible
and bold decisions to rebuild the capital city.
you have a mayor who lacks vision and who is not aware of
what is going on, then you have a problem," he said.
would not confirm speculation that he was interested in becoming
mayor of Kingston if the JLP wins the KSAC in the Local Government
elections on June 19. According to him, his focus right now,
was not to become mayor, but to steer the JLP to victory in
Brown-Burke, the People's National Party (PNP) councillor
for the Norman Gardens Division, also has sharp criticism
for the KSAC. When The Gleaner spoke to her recently, she
was in no doubt that the system and faltered and was in need
have not been doing a good job," she admitted.
Greene and Mr. McKenzie, she fingers the lack of adequately
trained and qualified technical staff as one of the major
problems affecting the body. But, for her, the quality of
the councillors is also an issue.
seen persons in the KSAC who have not been able to perform,"
she said. According to the councillor, there is a culture
of non-performance that pervades the KSAC.
the lead-up to the Local Government elections, both the Government
and the Opposition have sought to attract more capable candidates
to run in the elections. Part of this effort is to have persons
who can make the transition from being councillors to political
representatives at the national level.
McKenzie and Mrs. Brown-Burke are also in favour of cutting
the link between the central Government and the Local Government
system, arguing that this curtails the ability of the local
authorities and councillors to carry out their functions.
the calls coming from several quarters, for the Local Government
system to be entrenched in the Constitution. Mr. McKenzie
pointed to the recent controversy over the transfer of the
poor relief department from the KSAC.
Atkins said she was forced by Local Government Minister, Portia
Simpson Miller to sign an order turning over the department
to the Labour and Social Security Ministry. This sparked outrage
among councillors, who argued that the development signalled
the lack of independence of the KSAC.
there is a clear admission that the KSAC is faltering, all
is not lost. According to Mr. Greene, improvements have taken
place in recent years. He said that under his stewardship,
the KSAC has implemented a number of measures which seek to
boost its earnings to help it deliver some of its services
these initiatives include the collection of fees from parking
lots in New Kingston and the divestment of the abattoir.
Clerk reminds that when he made the initial attempt to collect
fees from the parking lots, there were those who argued that
it could not be done. However, after careful consultation
with his lawyers, he made the move.
it's a cash cow for us," he said. The parks, bring in
for the KSAC about $500,000 per month.
improve the efficiency of the KSAC, Senator McKenzie suggested
the creation of a municipal court to deal with matters relating
to Local Government. According to him, cases dealing with
violations of building codes are often stalled for long periods
in the regular court system.
he said, was a major contributor to the continued erection
of buildings which do not conform to set standards.