Sun | May 31, 2020

Jaevion Nelson | New Jamaica, but same garbage

Published:Monday | November 18, 2019 | 12:00 AM
More garbage trucks are needed.

It took over two weeks for the garbage collectors to pay a visit to my community this month and I can’t help but wonder what kind of ‘New Jamaica’ we are engendering if something as simple as garbage collection can’t be done on time frequently.

I know garbage collection isn’t even a thing in many communities across the country, and so they are forced to find alternative ways of disposing their waste, like burning it. In truth, that’s how I grew up. Though we know it was wrong and that we are contributing to pollution, we’d light the garbage once or twice each week, as there was no other way. I was, therefore, most shocked when I went home last year and saw collection points across the community.

The whole idea of garbage being collected was a reality when I came to Kingston, but I have noticed over the years that its frequency is not consistent. There was a time, in the community I now live in, when garbage collection was far more routine and predictable, but of late, over the past year, I’ve noticed that this is no longer the case. It no longer comes twice per week and sometimes it doesn’t come at all, as was the case up to last week. My home and, indeed, the entire community, was unsightly as garbage was overflowing, and stray dogs made it even worse.

At a previous dwelling, there was hardly ever a garbage ­problem, but I later learnt that the strata committee took care of that with private collectors.

Last week, the prime ­minister, the Most Hon ‘Brogad’, Andrew Holness, announced a $1.3-­billion cleaning programme, which would be rolled out over the coming weeks to clean up sections of the country. This programme, which many of us typically refer to as ‘Chrismus bullow’ work, will be implemented by the National Works Agency and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is a critical intervention. As someone from a small community in the country, who knows several people who benefited tremendously from this sort of exercise to clean up community, I fully appreciate its value.

MORE MONEY NEEDED

Notwithstanding, I can’t help but wonder if this money would be better used had it been allocated throughout the year to buy more garbage trucks, hire more collectors, and ensure more routine collection and disposal of waste, bushing and cleaning of drains, gullies, etc, throughout the year. Plus, as Kelly McIntosh suggested, undertake “a public education campaign, too!”

I’m tired of the same garbage every month. Something has to be done. It’s unsightly and poses health risks.

I’ve heard that heavy traffic in Kingston is why so many of us have to contend with garbage piling up in our homes and communities, but I don’t buy that excuse at all.

I sincerely hope that come next year, the 2020-2021 Budget will have allocations to increase the fleet, pay more to garbage collectors, and improve waste disposal and management, and that the Government see to further improvements at the NSWMA.

Jaevion Nelson is a human rights, social and economic justice advocate. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and jaevion@gmail.com or tweet @jaevionn.