Thu | Jan 17, 2019

'We wouldn't light the dump' - Riverton residents say they, too, are affected by smoke

Published:Tuesday | July 31, 2018 | 12:00 AM
From left: Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie talks with Dennis Chung, chairman, National Solid Waste Management Authority, while looking on are Stewart Beckford, acting commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, and Richard Thompson, acting director general, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, at a press conference held to give an update on the fire at the Riverton City dump.
Mark Christie walks near to the entrance of the Riverton City dump, while a fire rages at the site.

A fire at the Riverton dump in St Andrew has caused serious air-quality and health issues in parts of Kingston and St Andrew, as well as sections of St Catherine, since Sunday, leaving many residents livid.

However, neither residents nor government officials have pinpointed the cause of the fire, sparking frustration and anger.

The authorities have insisted that they believe arsonists set the dump ablaze. However, residents of Riverton have challenged that assertion, claiming that the origin was of natural cause.

"Sometimes the rubbish will just be on the dump and light by itself. We naa go light the dump because the dump feed we. We wouldn't light the dump because when that happens, we can't see anything in the mornings and the smoke is not good for our children," resident Dwayne Thompson told The Gleaner.

"All type of things burn in the fire, plus the dump assists us, so we wouldn't light it. They need security to see how the dump is lit, because more time, all the truck dem bring fire to the dump," he added.

His friend and neighbour, Jason Smith, explained that his regular bodily functions are affected by the smoke.

"Each time [the authorities] burn fire and cover it, you constantly have fire, because some of the garbage underneath stays lit. So it tends to just burst out back again. Other than that, you have like magnifying glass and other things that cause fire. There is nobody separating the garbage, so everything mix up all in one place. That's why fire is constantly there," said Jason.

The nuisance caused by smoke from the dump not only affects persons on plains, but residents on a nearby hill have also been suffering.

"When the smoke comes up, it affects us badly and I have my son inside, who has asthma. Everyone has to close doors and stay indoors. Most of the time, we can't catch fresh air, because even when there is no smoke, there is a stench. We can't live like that," Plantation Heights resident Donna Morgan told The Gleaner.

Morgan's brother, Kirk Trough, said: "If it was set by people down there, I want them to know that they can't kill off 100,000 people for the benefit of 15 ".