The Shadow Minister said already fear of the deadly virus has gripped Jamaicans across the country and the lack of water does not offer them a fair chance to properly protect themselves.
Dr. Ferguson noted that water lock-offs and the infrequent trucking of the precious commodity to communities is dangerous, especially for persons who have compromised health and are desperately trying to abide by the protective measures.
“Government needs to make a deliberate effort to have water delivered daily to communities without adequate water supply. This is not a matter that can be left to the whim and fancy of those who can afford to purchase a load. The primary responsibility of the state is the protection of the people, water is life, and life must be safeguarded,” Dr. Ferguson said.
He said communities in St Thomas, Portland, rural St Andrew, Hanover, Westmoreland, St Elizabeth, and other parishes have been struggling with water shortage due to drought conditions and other communities in the Corporate Area have had to endure regular water lock-off for a variety of reasons.
“The National Water Commission needs to adjust how it operates in this COVID-19 emergency to ensure that regular water delivery is a part of the response strategy,” he said.
Dr. Ferguson said the Rapid Response system that was set up under a PNP administration needs to be immediately reestablished so that Jamaicans across the island can be assured that water delivery is a priority and assured.
“The guarantee of having regular potable water supply should not be ambiguous for our people at this time. This should be a right that every Jamaican is able to access at this time when hand washing is essential to their basic survival.” Dr. Ferguson said.
In the meantime, the PNP's Shadow Minister of Industry, Competitiveness & Global Logistics, Mr Anthony Hylton, is urging the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) to immediately put in place stringent measures to safeguard the basic rights of Jamaican consumers as the nation is gripped by the COVID-19 crisis.
“Given the current spread of the coronavirus, supermarkets, pharmacies and other stores are overwhelmed due to panic buying and there are reports in some places of intentional hoarding of goods,” Mr. Hylton said in a statement today.
“As part of the Government's response to this pandemic, the Consumer Affairs Commission and Fair Trading Commission must ensure that the basic needs of Jamaicans are satisfied, and that they are provided with the necessary information to make informed decisions about their purchases,” he said.
Mr. Hylton said that the hard-earned dollar of the Jamaican consumer must be protected from those who seek to take advantage of the uncertainty and uneasiness that have engulfed a number of communities as the virus spreads.
He is calling upon the government to ensure that those who seek to take advantage of the Jamaican consumers are held accountable and bear the full weight of the law.
“We have seen an increase in panic buying from our consumers and from those who may very well be hoarding goods for resale at a higher cost. I am calling on the Consumer Affairs Commission to exercise its powers under the law to safeguard the Jamaican consumer.
I therefore urge the CAC, to deploy the necessary teams to visit stores to gather data and get a sense of the pricing and supply, especially of basic food necessities, toiletries, and sanitation items,” Hylton said.
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