Riverton Fire Crisis Will Never Happen Again – Arscott


“There is no possibility of this kind of fire that you have seen here again!”

That’s the commitment of the Local Government Minister, Noel Arscott, today as he responded to questions about the fire at the Riverton City dump.

Almost half of the Jamaican population was exposed to the toxic smoke from the dump for almost two weeks.

During much of that time, Mr Arscott was away in Japan attending a UN conference.

Today, he defended his management of the crisis as he promised it will never happen again.

The fire at the Riverton City dump burned for twelve days. It released record levels of the cancer causing substance Benzene into the atmosphere.

The smoke blanketed the Corporate area, sections of St Catherine and Clarendon.

As the fire raged, several hundred people reported to hospitals and clinics with respiratory ailments.

Businesses and schools either closed or had to reduce hours and the sitting of the GSAT had to be pushed back by one week.

Today the Local Government Minister, Noel Arscott, says there will be not be repeat under his watch.

The Local Government Minister says the Simpson Miller administration is intensifying efforts to divest the dump in the medium term.

But he says some short term steps have been taken.

Minister Arscott has faced criticism for his management of his portfolio.

In his defence, Mr Arscott says the failure of the Finance Ministry to respond to a request for funding for the dump contributed to the recent disaster.

He makes it clear he has no intentions to step aside.

The Local Government Minister who was in Japan for the majority of the days the fire burnt says sorry to those affected.

Abka Fitz-Henley is a multiple award-winning journalist who is currently the Senior Reporter at Nationwide News Network (NNN). His primary areas of focus are Court, Crime and Parliamentary proceedings. Fitz-Henley was recently recognized in the regional celebrity magazine publication Panache as “The Breaking News Boss”. At 21 years of age, following his 1st year in media, Fitz-Henley was recognized with the Young Journalist of the year award from The Press Association of Jamaica and went on to cop one of the country’s highest recognized journalism prizes, the Journalist of the Year Award. He’s also been awarded the prestigious Corporate Jamaica Broilers Fairplay 1st place Award for investigative journalism and is the recipient of the Caribbean Blog Award for coverage of the infamous Kartel murder trial. Fitz-Henley is also the recipient of the PM Youth Award for Excellence. Over the years, he has appeared as a guest on the BBC World Service and BBC London.