Dump the dump! - Morant Bay residents long for breath of fresh air
Irked by rising anger over the stench emanating from a St Thomas dump that has grown into a mountainous mess, Morant Bay Mayor Michael Hue is lobbying for garbage from the parish to be transported to the Riverton City landfill in Kingson.
Hue, who is chairman of the St Thomas Municipal Corporation, acknowledged that he has received complaints about the landfill but admitted that stakeholders’ hands are tied as they hunt for an alternative.
“They are trying to source a new site. They looking at other places. That’s the best I can say at this time … . What we are saying is that in the meantime, we would want them to do some transfer from there into Kingston,” he told The Gleaner yesterday evening.
Morant Bay residents – in particular those in communities such as Church Corner, Bamboo River, and an informal settlement known as Ackee Parade – say they are desperate for the operations of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA)-run facility to be halted immediately. Promises of a relocation date back to 2008, residents say.
They have cited a range of health hazards, including air pollution.
“Every rubbish in a St Thomas, a deh suh it go. From the border dung suh to the border a Portland,” said Bryan Malcolm, a resident and businessman in Morant Bay.
Devon Williams, another resident, told The Gleaner that the problem has been a talking point for years and now warranted action.
“When the rain fall, the dutty water run out of the dump and run go down inna the village. The dump nuh stay good from mi a liikle boy, and mi a 52. Mi born come see it deh,” he said.
Stakeholders have tried to position 20-foot containers to block the view of the unsightly mess. But that Band-Aid has not provided respite from odours whipped up by regular gusts.
“A dat (container) tek out the shame outta we parish cause them nah move it. We glad this deh here so cause people just a drive by and a say watch deh watch the dump. The dump is like a mountain in a the parish,” Malcolm said.
Residents pointed to the Orange Blossom Guest House and Off the Hook Sea Food Restaurant as two nearby businesses that have suffered because of their proximity to the dump.
They say the guest house has been built for years and is fully furnished but never opened because of the health hazard.
“Look how the garbage higher than the big guest house. It ready, but him can’t bring in people come deh suh. It haffi stay lock,” Malcolm said.
At an informal settlement located to the back of the dump called Ackee Parade, our news team braved the stench and spoke to one resident. The dweller, who asked that his identity be withheld, said that he has been living in the area for 19 years and is ashamed of his home.
“You know yuh have family and you would love fi invite dem, but yuh shame a yuhself fi know say big dump deh ya suh.
“It not even a treat properly. People deh far out and a smell the dump worse we who live here so. A whole heap of people deh round here,” he said.
Residents of the neighbouring community of Bamboo River also expressed dissatisfaction.
The mayor contends that the waste at the landfill is “really high”, likening it to a five-storey building, but he urged residents to hold strain as he and the corporation had met resistance in moving the dump to another location.
“We have got complaints from residents throughout the parish, but there is no suitable location. We can’t find one yet. Everywhere you think to put it, the complaints are there from residents, and you have to have that consultation first, and nobody wants it in their area,” Hue told The Gleaner.
Attempts to speak with NSWMA landfill supervisor Calvert McLeod were unsuccessful as repeated calls to his mobile phone went unanswered.