Sun | Oct 21, 2018

George Davis | Talking garbage

Published:Wednesday | October 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM
In this September 22 photograph, a section of Gold Street – between Harbour and Port Royal streets – seems to have become an informal garbage dump.

After the all-out assault on the word 'amazing' by television talking heads during the recent Summer Olympics in Rio, I find myself checking and then double-checking the correctness of the word when it creeps into one of my written or spoken phrases. And because I'm still nauseous from the Rio experience, I often find myself substituting amazing for 'astonishing' or another of the myriad synonyms of the adjective.

But as regards the flood-prone nature of Marcus Garvey Drive, Maxfield Avenue, Hagley Park Road, Constant Spring Road, Spanish Town Road and other major thoroughfares in the Corporate Area, I feel no compunction in being amazed at the havoc the least amount of rain causes in those areas.

Now it's easy to blame the nastiness of us Jamaicans for the garbage that clogs our gullies, drains and waterways. It's not just the Corporate Area where the nastiness has created the perfect conditions for flooding. Recall what happened in Ocho Rios in December 2003 when heavy rains caused the streets to be covered with a carpet of plastic bottles, Styrofoam containers and other refuse. Pick an area in Montego Bay and witness garbage submerged in pools of stagnant water, combining to create a stink in a part of the island that we advertise as a tourist Mecca. Uuugh!!

But you can't blame nasty alone. You cannot do so because many people who end up disposing of their garbage improperly often have no choice because the garbage trucks fail to show. Imagine what it's like living in an apartment complex where the communal receptacle is overflowing and you have to start keeping the garbage inside your house? Imagine having to store things like discarded food, kitchen waste and other items that spoil easily, tied up in a garbage bag inside your kitchen. The stink is sometimes so overpowering that you are forced to consider taking the damn thing and dumping it in a gully.

People who live in the country, inside tenement yards or in undeveloped areas, will sometimes believe that they endure a standard of living worse than their city-dwelling relatives and friends who rest inside gated complexes. They are not always right.




Many times, complex dwellers wish they had the 'luxury' of doing as a resident in the country would and take their garbage out into the back of the yard and burn it. They wish they could simply discard the bones and scraps from their dinner plate out into the yard, safe in the knowledge that stray cats, dogs or fowls will devour it in short order. Many city dwellers have had the garbage pile up in their houses so badly that they've confessed to me that if there was a gully nearby their house, they, too, would use it as a dumping ground.

I've been lucky with garbage disposal unlike my hard-suffering neighbours, most of whom have to wait until the garbage truck obliges them with a visit. For about five years I was able to pack my garbage bags into my car and tote them to Nationwide's office and dump them into the skip. That garbage skip was emptied every day and was like a godsend to me, especially after a weekend where I had guests over for dinner and there was a huge amount of kitchen waste that could not stay in the house until the two or so weeks that the National Solid Waste Management Authority sent a collection crew to my little enclave in Barbican.

Thankfully, SportsMax also has a garbage skip that's emptied every day, allowing me to dispose of the waste that would otherwise invite John Crow to pull me out of my house.

Between 2011 and 2015, the Government collected just under $19 billion in property taxes. A portion of that sum was to facilitate garbage collection and disposal. But as the money failed to be put to its intended use, garbage piled up and maggots were bred inside waste bins in many people's kitchens.

So, yes, Jamaicans are nasty. But given how unreliable and ramshackle our garbage collection system is, it's no surprise that many people just throw their waste anywhere they can.


- George Davis is a broadcast executive producer and talk-show host. Email feedback to and