St Ann residents say bauxite company has made their lives hell

(Jamaica Observer) Herman Webb is an angry man.The 65-year-old says that Noranda Bauxite Company has been giving him, his neighbours and hundreds of residents in districts neighbouring the community of Stepney in South East St Ann a raw deal.

“If somebody don’t come to we rescue it’s going to be a bloody revolution around here. I have been farming this land for 42 years and they want to give me little or nothing,” Webb fumed in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

Webb’s outrage, and that of his neighbours, has its genesis in Noranda’s mining operations in the districts which, the residents claim, have been having a negative effect on their lives.

“The dust is terrible,” said Webb. “It affects everybody, but the company don’t pay anybody who is more than 300 feet from the mining site. It is unfair, because the breeze blow the dust for miles.”

Webb’s frustration was shared by Gerald Lawrence, president of the Nine Miles United Districts Citizens’ Association.

“We want the whole Jamaica to know what we are going through. Our lives have become hell,” said Lawrence.
The association represents the districts of Prickly Pole, Glasgow Lodge, Eight Miles, Nine Miles, Stepney, Hessen Castle, Murray Mount and Grants Mountain.

Most of the residents in the bauxite-rich section of the parish are farmers who live on land owned by Noranda.
In recent times, the company served notice that the residents need to clear their crops from designated plots and has been paying compensation to the displaced farmers.

But this has been a bone of contention for the residents who claim that their crops are being grossly undervalued.

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