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Don’t blame me for fire - NSWMA Head

Published:Friday | March 13, 2015 | 6:57 PM
Downtown Kingston covered by smoke from the Riverton City Dump last Thursday.

As the anger grows over the smoke from the Riverton City dump, executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Jennifer Edwards, has rejected claims that the site is not being properly managed.

Answering questions at a media briefing last Friday, Edwards argued that waste disposal sites such as that in Riverton are prone to fires.

"The disposal site is a place that is prone to fires, so we have fires like every three months at one or the other disposal sites, but they tend to be very small. We manage them between a couple of minutes or hours and they are out of the way," said Edwards.

She argued that the problems at Riverton are linked to the fact that the NSWMA does not have the necessary funds to implement its plans.

"The fire at Riverton is certainly not something that the NSWMA has facilitated, encouraged or otherwise, so I'm not of the view that there is a lack of management. What we may have is lack of resources to implement that management plan," said Edwards.

"I believe the NSWMA has managed the facility as best as is possible based on what we have there. I believe that, based on all of that they have done very well in keeping the disposal site from erupting more frequently," added Edwards.

But despite the defence of her stewardship, Edwards is facing growing calls for her resignation with the Jamaica Labour Party's youth arm, Young Jamaica, being the latest to add its voice to the calls.

According to Young Jamaica, it will accept nothing less than the resignation of Ms Edwards.

"The kind of negligence and inaction we see coming from the NSWMA has put the country in a very untenable position and we're saying enough is enough. Ms Edwards' incompetence has been laid bare since she took office; the city has been filthy and these landfill fires continue to pose an unprecedented threat to public health and safety," said the opposition group.

"We are now seeing a disruption to education and commerce in the capital. Her continued leadership is untenable."

Young Jamaica also urged the Government to order an investigation into the operations of the NSWMA and the Riverton City dump site with a view to reinforcing the security of the area and establishing a credible management structure for the facility.