Citizens poor at solid waste disposal - St James disaster coordinator
St James disaster coordinator Tamoy Sinclair wants citizens to acknowledge the impact of improper waste disposal on flooding during periods of rain.
Sinclair cited Tuesday's flooding of Montego Bay's Fairview shopping centre during the passage of Tropical Storm Earl as an example of the deleterious practice's effects.
"Garbage disposal is a significant problem within the parish, and we are working with the solid waste authority to try and see what can be done within the area to assist in garbage collection. But citizens are poor at solid waste disposal, and that is clearly evident," Sinclair told The Gleaner.
Several sections of Montego Bay were inundated with floodwaters during the passage of the storm earlier this week.
The Fairview complex, in particular, came into sharp focus, with images of a submerged motor vehicle at the shopping centre making the rounds on social media, though the waters later subsided from the area.
Speaking specifically to Fairview, Sinclair said that an assessment was subsequently done concerning the impact of the flooding in the area, which has been blamed on garbage blocking the complex's drains.
"The solid waste authority and the parish council went there (Tuesday) afternoon to assess it, but that area is private property, so in terms of maintenance for that specific area, neither the local authority nor the National Works Agency (NWA) has direct responsibility for drain cleaning on the private property," Sinclair said.
"But because it is a major commercial area, it is clearly something that is going to stand out," Sinclair acknowledged.
At the same time, Sinclair sought to downplay suggestions that Tuesday's incident of flooding at Fairview was indicative of a perpetual issue with flooding in the area.
"Obviously, there was a lot of garbage that blocked the drain within that vicinity, but to show an image while the rain is actually happening, to say that we are having significant flooding there, I think that is a little unfair. The water did run off, and the image that was shown took place in the midst of the rain," said Sinclair. "It is a tricky situation, but it is something that we need to examine a bit deeper to see how we can curtail the problem altogether."
The St James Parish Council and other interest groups in Montego Bay have made several attempts in the last few years to promote better waste-management practices among residents.
These efforts include the outlining of the dangers of dumping garbage in gullies, which results in blocked drains and promotes flooding during moderate to heavy rainfall.
Chief public health inspector for St James Lennox Wallace recently said that a major cultural shift was needed to arrest instances of improper waste disposal in Montego Bay, which leads to pollution of local beaches when waste is washed down from the perpetually garbage-strewn North Gully.