Relief for cops

Relief for cops

NWC to spend up to $400,000 to get water into barracks at Kingston Central police station

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, September 24, 2020

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POLICEMEN and women based in the barracks at the Kingston Central police station should be able to take a shower no later than today, as the National Water Commission (NWC) has responded to their plight.

On Tuesday, the Jamaica Observer broke news that female officers based at the downtown Kingston-based divisional headquarters were grateful to their male counterparts who had been taking pans of water into the bathrooms in the barracks to allow them to get a bath before reporting for duty each day.

Since the story broke senior officials of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the NWC and the Ministry of National Security have visited the divisional headquarters and vowed to improve the conditions facing policemen and women who have been resorting to the use of bath pans for more than three months, despite water being available on sections of the East Queen Street facility.

President of the NWC Mark Barnett yesterday told the Observer that the problem was being given priority attention.

“When we heard of the situation…we immediately took steps to ascertain what was the cause, whether it was a deficiency of supply reaching the facility from an NWC side or if it was an internal problem,” said Barnett.

“When we did our assessment, water was on the premises. We did further checks on the infrastructure and we came to the conclusion that the on-site distribution was the main cause of the problem, and this was preventing water from reaching the areas that were experiencing [problems].

“From there we made a commitment that the NWC will do whatever piping is necessary to get the water to the locations that support the restrooms for the officers and to install a pressured system to ensure that it is fully functional for the officers,” added Barnett.

He said the commitment is to have water flowing into the barracks at latest today, because the matter is being treated as very urgent.

“We are moving very quickly to address the situation, especially during a time when we have this health challenge [COVID-19] which affects everyone,” said Barnett.

The NWC president confirmed reports reaching the Observer that a pump which should be pushing water into the barracks is defective and vowed that it would be replaced. Other defective pipelines will also be changed.

“One of the things that I have always advocated from a water perspective — and I don't know if it has actually resonated with our public — when you have a building that is more than 30 years, you must repipe your system. Water, over time, corrodes metal pipes, it doesn't matter what metal it is, and it is going to create a challenge.

“And I have no doubt that it is what has happened at the central police station,” declared Barnett.

The NWC president said getting water to the barracks at the Kingston Central police station will cost the company in the region of $300,000 to $400,000, but it is committed to doing the work to improve conditions for the police.

On Monday an Observer source pointed to the unsanitary conditions in the barracks and charged that: “The toilets them bung up and women and men have to bathe in pans.”

According to the source, “Everybody knows that this is a problem and there has been no resolution. It appears to be getting worse, because I saw someone filling pans to flush the toilets in the superintendent's office last week.”

Another source claimed that the police have repeatedly complained about the water woes which have left people begging for a transfer from the division.

The Police High Command has admitted that it was aware of water challenges at the barracks at the divisional headquarters but argued that efforts have been made to address the issue over time.

However, yesterday the constabulary, in a social media post, released photos of plumbing work being done at the facility, courtesy of its Property Management Division and the Ministry of National Security.


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