Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Editors' Forum | Solid waste permits soon needed for event approval

Published:Monday | October 7, 2019 | 12:06 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Audley Gordon, executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority, addressing a Gleaner Editors’ Forum last Thursday.
Gail Mitchell, legal director of the NSWMA, makes a point.
1
2

If the management and board at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) have their way, party promoters will soon need to secure a solid waste permit before they can host events in Jamaica.

In a move geared at holding promoters accountable for the collection, containment and disposal of garbage after staging events, the NSWMA will be seeking to have recommended regulations passed into law.

NSWMA Legal Director Gail Mitchell says the agency intends to correct and monitor the ongoing process.

“We have fines in relation to littering and different forms of littering in public places, and it has now gone far beyond what the parent act provides for,” Mitchell said at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum last week. “You think of persons in an apartment and they just litter everywhere; think of people in entertainment, you keep a dance over by Palisadoes and you have one whole heap of garbage. It’s not going to work. We are going to ensure that you take responsibility for that.”

She continued: “The regulations are now going to provide for an application to the NSWMA, in terms of permit and licensing, and to monitor you after the fact, so you are going to need to take responsibility for whatever garbage you would have generated and pick it up or make provisions.”

The Gleaner understands that the regulations are now at the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.

Significant fines

NSWMA Chairman Dennis Chung said that the recommended fines are meant to ensure persons take greater responsibility for keeping the country clean.

“What we have recommended from the board level is significant,” Chung said.

Audley Gordon, executive director at NSWMA, acknowledged that enforcement of the law is key to changing behaviour.

“Let me caution that it must go hand in hand with the boots on the ground because you can have the regulations, but if you do not have the capacity to enforce it, it stays on the paper where it is written,” he said.

According to the NSWMA, promoters would need to visit the agency and make arrangements for garbage collection or state how the garbage would be collected and disposal of.

“We just want to ensure that the garbage or solid waste would have been containerised and disposed of, so they can ask the NSWMA to do it, but the onus is now going to be on the promoter or whoever is putting on that entertainment activity to say to the authority, ‘This is how I am going to dispose of my garbage’,” Mitchell pointed out.

Gordon, however, stressed that the NSWMA would not be seeking to approve or deny permits in the event application process.

“We would not be infringing on the police’s jurisdiction. They will decide if they want to permit a dance or a show. That’s not our business. We not going to infringe on the parish council, who have their other considerations to make; that’s there prerogative to make,” the NSWMA executive director said. “We are saying, to the extent that you get permission to keep this show, we want to ensure that the place nuh nasty up.”

The NSWMA cited the mounds of garbage left by revellers at a carnival event this year as a point of reference.

“If you notice the last carnival, there was a mess uptown after the carnival. However, that is not to say that there weren’t arrangements in place. There were arrangements in place with a private hauler, but what we concluded was that the arrangement was not adequate in terms of the amount of people. The volume of garbage was out of this world,” Gordon said.

“We want to make that now backed by the regulation that we must have a say so that an event like carnival, we can anticipate by experience the amount of people, how much garbage will be generated, how many people we should have there picking up, how many bags we should have placed at strategic points, and how many trucks we should have come in the aftermath of the carnival. Regulation would give us not just a seat around the table, but a hand on the control,” he explained.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com