Crammed and smelly

The entrance to the Ministry of Labour’s temporary office at Cottage Road in Montego Bay

Barrington Flemming – Staff Reporter

  • NIS office condition irks workers and clients

“The place don’t smell good, inside smell like a dog weh waan bathe. Di office too small and hot and mi feel like mi going to throw up. Lord have mercy!”

These are words of a frustrated 72-year-old female pensioner (who spoke on condition of anonymity) when she visited the Western Regional offices of the Ministry of Labour’, now temporarily housed at 3 Cottage Road in Montego Bay.

The plight of the pensioner was also that of other persons who were forced to wait outside and are buffeted daily by sweltering heat and a dust nuisance.

“This is unacceptable.  My grandmother is inside but uncomfortable because di place smell frounzy. Why we have to be out here in the boiling sun, dust a blow up inna wi face and all that? A dis thing this, just to get some service in dis place,” said Marcene Bremmer who accompanied her grandmother to the office.

The reception area saw several persons crammed into a space much too small to accommodate them.

One man, Jason Dunston, who was inside said: “This is a disgrace.’ They move the office to say they are doing repairs at di odda building and put the office here, it is not a good set up at all. Di place small, it smell bad and it hot. The A/C blowing hot stinking air. The government need to do something bout it. This can’t continue,” Dunston said.

On a visit to the office, several persons were seen sitting on a ledge outside, some under a small tent and some persons were placed under the staircase to sit on metal chairs.

“This is what we come to? I caan deal wid dis. Mi outside inna di heat and mi haffi wait how long before mi go inside a di stinking place,” murmured a woman.


Meanwhile, staff morale at the office is reportedly at an all-time low, as workers are said to be growing increasingly frustrated with the conditions. The workers have indicated that their ability to function well is being seriously hampered as they are crammed into a much too small space, leaving from a too storey building at Sam Sharpe Square, which housed several departments and managers offices.

The Western Regional Office of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and its related services was relocated from the building at Sam Sharpe Square to the present location over a year ago, to facilitate repairs to the building. The building was also said to be impacted by the flood waters which washed into several commercial building in the city last November.

Winston Lawson, President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recently raised concern about the condition at the Western Regional office, citing that it was not ideal, especially for senior citizens.

Shanine Robinson Minister of Labour in a terse statement on Tuesday while addressing the Ministry’s Quarterly press briefing in Kingston said:

“We have noted the concerns of our stakeholders regarding this arrangement. We want to rectify this as soon as we have met with some key stakeholders, including the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce to identify an appropriate alternative to this regional office.”


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