Clash over rodent control funds

LUCEA, Hanover — A suggestion that the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) withheld financial support to the health department’s rodent control programme had mayor of Lucea Sheridan Samuels (People’s National Party (PNP) and Councillor Easton Edwards (Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Lucea Division) trading barbs at last Thursday’s monthly meeting of the HMC. It was mooted that funding should only be provided after the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA)) resolves inconsistencies in its garbage collection process.

Edwards did not support the suggestion.

“I have faith in the system… because right now, as we speak, in transit, we have 50 garbage trucks coming into the country and I feel…” he said, before he was interrupted by the mayor.

“Councillor, when the garage trucks come then you can speak…” said Samuels, before Edwards interjected.

“What is wrong with you?” asked Samuels.

Edwards responded, “What is wrong with me? What is wrong with you?”

Samuels, who was chairing the meeting, then told Edwards to have a seat. However, Edwards insisted that he should be allowed to finish his point.

“We are playing politics and even the blind can see that we are playing politics; we need to be very careful,” he warned.

However, Samuels assured the meeting that politics was not at play and that he and Edwards actually have a good working relationship.

The tense exchange between the two stemmed from a discussion on whether enough was being done to address the issue of rodents within the parish. Deputy mayor of Lucea Andria Dehaney Grant (PNP) — who pointed out that the HMC’s offer to help the health department with its rodent control programme had not been taken up — sought answers about the last time such an intuitive was pursued.

Senior medical officer for Hanover Dr Kaushal Singh, who welcomed help from the HMC, said a programme proposal would be done and presented to the corporation.

However, Councillor Marvell Sewell (PNP, Green Island Division) questioned the wisdom of spending resources on rodent control at this point.

“I don’t see the sense… in giving the money right now until the garbage is collected. It would be like dropping a gallon of fresh water in the sea. It won’t make a difference until the garbage is cleaned up… because the garbage is feeding the rodents,” he said.

He argued that inconsistent garbage collection was contributing to the problem and questioned whether there was an increase in the rodent population. Dr Singh confirmed that more rodents have been seen in some sections of Hanover.

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