Bridgeport councillor, Kenord Grant, said the industrial action by the National Water Commission (NWC) staff has raised serious issues with the management of Jamaica’s water security.
Speaking at last Thursday’s monthly general meeting of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation, Grant said that while he stood in solidarity with the protesting NWC workers because of long-standing compensation matters, their action has raised fresh concerns of access to water.
“Water is a commodity that needs to be secured and needs a high level of protocol to implement a security regime that is able to protect the public water supply from threats both foreign and domestic,” the councillor stated.
He continued: “An industrial by workers action is a local threat, and I am questioning why the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) was not organised and deployed in a timely manner to take control, man, and secure the facilities of the water commission’s network. Furthermore, are they trained to take over essential services of this nature in the event of a local or foreign treat?”
The councillor talked about a hypothetical scenario of a terrorist attack and further questioned the level of readiness on the part of the Government to secure the public from the aftermath.
“Let us give a worst case scenario, say this was a terrorist attack, we should not have expected members of the public to be exposed to the aftermath of this event. The JDF should be at the minimum standard trained and have the necessary skill set to keep these basic operations going and be able to secure them for the safety of the citizenry.”
Grant said he wants to know if there is an existing security policy for the JDF to secure and man these vital facilities and if there is one, how can it be improved upon because this NWC industrial action clearly established a threat and punches holes into any existing policies if any exist.
More than 2,000 NWC workers went on strike last Tuesday and Wednesday, demanding action over an outstanding reclassification from 2008 and their non-inclusion in the ongoing review of the public sector compensation.
The industrial action crippled businesses and government activities across the country, and several schools were also affected, forcing school administrators to send students home.