Rats overrun Port Antonio - Mayor in race to clean up town as stench forces cruise ships to stay away
Port Antonio, Portland, has become overrun by rats and other rodents, creating panic among business operators whose commercial waste has been left uncollected for several days.
The garbage pile-up, which has led to an unbearable stench lingering throughout the parish capital, has also forced cancellations by at least six cruise ships, which were destined for the resort town during the current winter tourist season, a move that has further crippled the already fragile tourism sector in Portland.
"We are faced with a race against time," declared Port Antonio Mayor Paul Thompson.
"With a cruise ship schedule for January 4, it is going to be a serious challenge getting the town back to a state of readiness and acceptance. Nevertheless, it has to be done. It will require the full support of all the stakeholders to rid Port Antonio of commercial waste, which has become a breeding ground for rats and a playground for dogs. Persons of unsound mind have also contributed to the crisis situation as they, too, have scattered garbage along the corridors."
According to Thompson, there is an urgent call for business operators and other residents to embrace the changes that will be coming on stream and to buy into the idea of restoring civic pride in charting the way forward.
During a tour of the town yesterday, Thompson expressed shock at seeing the many blocked drains in and around Port Antonio, which is further compounded by the heavy presence of plastic bottles, styrofoam, and plastic bags, which have clogged up most of the drains leading out to sea.
One business operator, Garfield Sinclair of Kamals Enterprise, who met with the mayor for the first time since his installation, pointed out that the irregular collection of garbage on the part of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) was seriously affecting his day-to-day operations.
"I have a contractual arrangement with the NSWMA wherein I pay them a monthly fee to collect my garbage," said Sinclair.
"The last time my garbage was collected was three days ago, and it is piling up as we speak. I am well aware that only one garbage truck is up and running, and, therefore, I will have to make alternative arrangements to ensure that my waste is collected and properly disposed of. The town of Port Antonio is real dirty and it is a rather painful sight to look at. I will gladly assist with any effort to restore civic pride to this town, especially with the coming of cruise ships," he added.
Another operator, Chandra Andru of TAJ Pharmacy, has also pledged to assist with the efforts to restore Port Antonio to its former glory years when it was the pride and joy of the Caribbean.
In the meantime, Thompson has outlined a number of measures that are to be implemented to combat the garbage situation in Port Antonio and its environs.
Measures to combat garbage pile-up in Port Antonio
(1) The placing of garbage skips at a central location to store commercial waste
(2) Frequent cleaning of drains in and around Port Antonio
(3) Having dialogue with the NSWMA with the intention of hiring private contractors to collect waste
(4) Enforcing the anti-litter law
(5) Strengthening the power of the municipal police to issue tickets to commercial business operators who fail to comply with the new regulations
(6) Inviting business operators to have regular consultation so as to improve the bad garbage-collection system
(7) Assigning litter wardens at strategic locations to reduce the likelihood of garbage being dumped on the streets of Port Antonio and to issue tickets