NSWMA, police swoop down on August Town dump - UWI denies connection to illegal waste-disposal site
The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) has commenced investigations into a massive illegal dump that has been operating in a section of Bedward Gardens in August Town, St Andrew, for several years.
The NSWMA, joined by police, visited the dump site yesterday in wake of the issue being brought to light in an article in The Sunday Gleaner last weekend.
The Sunday Gleaner article revealed that men in the area were charging truck drivers between $500 and $1,000 to dump rubble, plastic, and other forms of waste on the large plot of land.
"What is certain is that this can't continue. The NSWMA has a duty under the law, and we will have to carry out our responsibility," Audley Gordon, chief technical officer at the NSWMA, said during yesterday's visit to the dump site.
"The enforcement department will have to work in collaboration with the police, but the task to them is to keep both eyes on this particular problem and to work assiduously to bring it to a resolution."
Gordon said residents in the area claimed that the land was owned by the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, and they were given permission to use it.
"We will have to sit down with the university and ensure that there is a dialogue, but make no mistake about it, the dialogue will not be to condone the flagrant breaking of the law," Gordon said.
"How can we, as a responsible authority, not act in face of this clear and present danger? We must act, and that we will do. I intend to have dialogue with the University of the West Indies, to sit down with the police, with NEPA (the National Environment and Planning Agency), the environmental people, the residents, and all the different stakeholders. If we have to, we will talk to even the JDF (Jamaica Defence Force), but the law will have to be upheld."
UWi doesn't own property
But Director of Marketing, Recruitment, and Communications at the UWI, Mona, Dr Carroll Edwards, has rubbished claims that the university owns the property.
"The University of the West Indies, Mona, does not own any land in the Bedward Gardens community of August Town and has not given permission to anyone to dump rubble or any type of waste on land in that community," Edwards wrote in an emailed response to questions from The Gleaner.
It has been suggested that some of the rubble illegally dumped right next to the bed of the Hope River was from construction sites on the UWI, Mona campus, but Edwards said no evidence has been found to substantiate such claims.
"Contracts issued by the UWI, Mona, normally include a provision that construction waste must be disposed of at an approved dump site. Internal checks have not found any evidence of permission being granted to any UWI-connected entity to dump material on land in Bedward Gardens," Edwards wrote.
"Having heard the allegations, The UWI, Mona, will conduct its own investigations to ascertain whether any member of the university community, or any of its private contractors, is involved in any such activity."
Stephen Taylor, inspector in charge of the August Town Police Station, revealed that persons had been arrested for dumping on the land in recent months, but they had refused to divulge who their employers were.