Clean-up pressure builds on cash-strapped NSWMA
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) says it will cost the agency at least $5 billion to deal with the problem of uncollected garbage and this does not include another significant sum to carry out the proposed national clean-up exercise to tackle chikungunya announced by Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson.
While plans are being made for a national clean-up day to eliminate mosquito breeding sites across the country, director of operations at the NSWMA, Percival Stewart, said such an exercise could not be done in a day with the limited resources available to move material that would be generated from the clean-up.
"If you make national clean up one day, what is going to happen is that our resources would be stretched thin for that day," Stewart told The Gleaner.
"If we were to have a national clean-up day and if the citizens should respond, and I see no reason why they won't, what you would have at every gate the following day is a pile-up in all communities because you would be asking them to rid themselves of all these possible (mosquito-breeding) sites."
He argued that the average household would use the opportunity to discard old fridges and stoves, which would pose a challenge for the NSWMA to remove in a day.
Stewart explained that tipper trucks would have to be hired to remove bulk waste and there would be an inadequacy in terms of the number of trucks available. He suggested that the proposed clean-up exercise could be done on a phased basis across different sections of the island.
The NSWMA director of operations was at pains to point out that private contractors were not always reliable, noting that only five out of a complement of 20 turned up for duty yesterday in the Kingston Metropolitan Area.
Stakeholders yesterday commented on the proposed national clean-up day.
PSOJ President Christopher Zacca
"While the PSOJ can't speak for individual businesses and whether they would commit money or equipment for such an event, we will encourage all businesses to do whatever they can to assist in the clean-up exercise."
Horace Glades, senior director for preparedness and emergency operations at ODPEM
"We do have a role in terms of any emergency preparedness effort. Undoubtedly, we would have a role in that, but I can't say at this time what that specific role in relation to the clean-up day will be."
Trevor Fearon, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce
"We would certainly be very supportive of it because it, is at the root of many of the problems that we have. For instance, somebody told me that as a producer, he could not even get products unloaded when he took it to some facility because that receiving team had been so badly hit [by chikungunya] that his truck had to go back. I think you would find very few firms that have not had an impact [from chik-V] in various departments, just in terms of people having to be absent from work and that always has an impact on productivity."