MONTEGO BAY, St James — Flooding in downtown Montego Bay during heavy downpour has been attributed, in part, to the dumping of copious numbers of condoms, among other garbage into the South Gully.
The finding was part of a report from the recent South Gully Research Project (SGRP) conducted by associates of the watchdog agency Jamaica Environment Trust (JET).
According to the report, hundreds of used condoms, suspectedly from prostitution activities, featured prominently among other garbage found strewn at the mouth of the South Gully recently.
Downtown Montego Bay has faced a long-standing flooding problem commonly attributed to an accumulation of garbage and debris in gullies.
On Tuesday during the heavy showers associated with Tropical Storm Earl, sections of downtown Montego Bay were inundated, leaving numerous vehicles stalled and stranded.
“In reports to JET, the Montego Bay Marine Park said that large quantities of items such as used condoms, typically 100 or more at a time, were found. These were suspected to be the result of increase in prostitution activities near the gully and there are nine adult entertainment clubs that are also observed in very close proximity to the gully,” deputy CEO of the Jamaica Environmental Trust (JET), Suzanne Stanley, revealed.
“So because of informal type businesses and informal type of activities that are happening, there is not any solid waste management system in place to deal with the garbage that is coming out of these establishments. You find that a lot of that type of waste is making its way directly into the gully.”
She further highlighted another alarming finding, that food containers containing human faeces, are being thrown into the gully by individuals.
“Additionally, Styrofoam boxes and plastic bags, containing human waste have been caught by the [debris containment] boom as well. So what seems to happen is that persons use these receptacles and defecate in these receptacles and then they throw them into the gully. The receptacles then float in the gully and then are trapped by the boom, along with the other debris”.
Stanley underscored the health hazard posed by this practice.
“This poses a serious health risk, of course, not only for…the users of Montego Bay for recreational use, but the persons who are clearing the debris from that boom, who are coming now in direct contact with these types of things,” JET’s deputy CEO argued.
” …when faeces is contained in a Styrofoam box, or a bag, or something like that, you can’t tell what is in the box until, of course, you remove it from the boom. So it looks just like a bag or a lunch box until it’s removed and you realise its very disgusting contents,” Stanley said.
She was speaking at the release of the SGRP report and the launch of 2016 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day Jamaica activities held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre last week. The SGRP and ICC Jamaica activities are being delivered by JET with funding by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) under the Clean Coast Project (CCP).
Among the areas affected by Tuesday’s flooding in Montego Bay were the newly developed Fairview Shopping Centre, where a number of motor vehicles were submerged in rising floodwater.
Sections of St James Street, Dome Street and Rosemount were also flooded, causing a slowdown in commercial activities.
Water from Rosemount and Dome is transported to the sea through the South Gully.
Meanwhile, Mayor of Montego Bay Councillor Glendon Harris attributed most of the flooding that affected the city, especially on Dome Street, to the clogging of silt traps by garbage.
“The garbage [has been] blocking silt traps, therefore the water can’t run off as it is supposed to, so you get a build-up [of floodwater] with the persistent, heavy rain,” Harris said.