Fri | Dec 9, 2016

JLP vows to dump Riverton into private hands

Published:Tuesday | March 17, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, opposition spokesperson on information, making a point about the fire at the Riverton disposal site, during a press conference at the Jamaica Labour Party headquarters yesterday. Flanking her are Desmond McKenzie (left), spokesperson on local government, and Alexander Williams, spokesperson on land and the environment.

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has vowed to dump the Riverton City disposal site into private hands if it secures another electoral victory, even as it scorched a rash of government personnel and agencies for their failure to thwart yet another blaze at the disposal site.

As the dump continued

to smoulder, the Simpson

Miller administration, Local Government Minister Noel Arscott, and executive director

of the National Solid

Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Jennifer Edwards, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) came under fire from the parliamentary Opposition.

Former Kingston Mayor Desmond McKenzie, the current spokesman on local government, sparked the barrage of attacks when he complained that Jamaicans have been burnt for far too long.

Alexander Williams, the political newcomer monitoring land and environment, was just as fiery. "Arscott fiddles as Rome (Kingston) burns," he declared.

As the sickening smoke raged for the sixth consecutive day, the parliamentary Opposition dispatched its gamut of mostly young sharpshooters to fire at the Government.

Minus embattled JLP leader, Andrew Holness, McKenzie, a veteran politician, led the

opposition troops. In his first volley, he declared that the Government lacked the firepower to operate and manage the dump.

McKenzie said that the city lacked a cohesive approach and questioned the true motive of frequent fires at the dump site. "This is reflective of a lack of preparedness on the part of the Government," he asserted.

McKenzie also listed Arscott's "failure" to fulfil a range of promises he has made since 2012, all aimed at arresting the blazes.

These include installation of pumps and providing coverage and perimeter fencing, all of which would stave off intruders and the likelihood of fires.

Changing deadlines

Edwards, the executive director of the NSWMA since 2012, did not escape the onslaught. McKenzie charged that when spoke with her at the start of the blaze, she downplayed the situation at the dump.

"Today, we continue to get different deadlines, even when we have to be paying $160 million a day," he said.

Characterising the situation as a national disgrace Williams charged that the NSWMA has failed miserably to police the dump.

But more so, he said that NEPA, as well as the NRCA, adopted a handicapped approach in hauling offenders before the court.

"NEPA, on behalf of the NRCA, has not taken anyone to court," he lamented. "The NSWMA should not be running in any landfill but a policing authority."

Marlene Malahoo Forte, the deputy spokesperson on health, raised concern about the likely cancer-generating particles that have been caused by the fire while Deputy Spokesperson on Education Robert Nesta Morgan warned that protracted effect could have long-term effects on schoolchildren.

gary.spaulding@leanerjm.com