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Divestment committee pussyfooting with sale of Riverton dump, says NSWMA chairman

Published:Monday | August 6, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

The committee responsible for divesting the Riverton dump in St Andrew has come under scrutiny from Dennis Chung, chairman of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).

Frequent fires at the dump have affected the health and well-being of thousands of citizens for many years, including in the past week. A frustrated Chung lamented that the Solid Waste Enterprise Committee has been dragging its feet, causing the NSWMA to receive unwarranted blame.

"The NSWMA does not have remit to improve the dump. In 2016, the responsibility was given to an enterprise team with the responsibility to privatise the facility," Chung told The Gleaner recently. "If it were up to us, we would relocate long time. We have been asking for money because the budget we get is only 60 per cent of what we ask for. We have been doing our best. We can't do anything else."

He continued: "All we can do is try to secure the dump. The divestment process has been going on for six years. The divestment responsibility was taken from NSWMA and given to committee, and I have been asking that it be given back to us," Chung said, noting that there has not been any shortage of potential investors who would transform the dump into a proper landfill.

"There are roughly 40 expressions of interest. One company from Canada wants to invest US$1 billion. Up to last week, an overseas investor expressed interest, but the [committee] has been pussyfooting around. The first time the divestment process stopped was because of a procedural error. This [issue] has been languishing for a long time," Chung disclosed.

The topic of divestment of the Riverton dump was thrown back into focus following a major fire at the facility last week. Authorities claimed that they had evidence that arsonists were responsible. In October 2016, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the creation of an enterprise committee with responsibility for divesting the Riverton dump, among other things. Since last week, The Gleaner has been trying to contact chairman of the committee, Lyttleton Shirley, but to no avail. The nine-member committee that was announced included Lyttleton Shirley, chairman; Dr Milton Clarke, deputy chairman; Milverton Reynolds; Rochelle Dacres; Fitzroy Vidal; Dr Kerrine Senior; Audley Gordon; Patrick Gordon; and Paul Tai.