While the impact of Hurricane Dean may not have been as bad as that suffered under Hurricane Ivan parts of Jamaica have clearly been hit VERY hard. However the Jamaican politicians have wasted no time in politicising the aftermath of the disaster.
In her address to the nation PM Portia Simpson outlined the damage and the progress so far:
APPROXIMATELY 135,000 CUSTOMERS OF THE JAMAICA PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OR OVER 20% OF THE 560,000 CUSTOMERS OF ELECTRICITY HAVE NOW HAD THEIR SERVICE RESTORED. THESE CUSTOMERS ARE PRIMARILY IN THE PARISHES OF KINGSTON AND ST ANDREW, ST JAMES, TRELAWNY, HANOVER, WESTMORELAND AND ST ANN.
IN TERMS OF WATER, 80% OF THE NATIONAL WATER COMMISSION’S WATER SUPPLY SYSTEMS WERE AFFECTED BY HURRICANE DEAN. SINCE THE PASSAGE OF THE HURRICANE, WATER SUPPLY ALONG NEARLY ALL THE COASTAL AREAS FROM SAVANNA LA MAR, NEGRIL, MONTEGO BAY, FALMOUTH, OCHO RIOS, THROUGH TO PORT MARIA HAS BEEN REACTIVATED.
NEARLY ALL THE LARGEST WATER SUPPLY SYSTEMS ARE NOW BACK IN OPERATION USING AVAILABLE STANDBY GENERATORS AND THROUGH POWER SUPPLIED BY THE JPS. APPROXIMATELY 50% OF PRODUCTION CAPACITY IS NOW BACK IN OPERATION.
IN TERMS OF DAMAGE TO OUR ROAD NETWORK, THE NATIONAL WORKS AGENCY REPORTED THAT SOME 379 ROADS WERE AFFECTED OF WHICH 322 HAVE BEEN CLEARED. THEY ARE STILL EXPERIENCING PROBLEMS IN NORTHERN AREAS BUT WORK IS PROGRESSING AT A RAPID AND SUSTAINED PACE.
Now taking advantage of disaster is a time honoured tradition amongst West Indian politicians. You can count on Portia to visibly lead this relief effort from the front. Also you can be sure that the Jamaica government will be “generous” in relief aid.
The opposition will only be able to look on in dismay as the response to the hurricane provides a platform for the incumbent party to legitimately dispense largesse to genuinely needy people.