Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Public must bear blame for garbage eyesores

Published:Saturday | October 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Public must bear blame for garbage eyesores


This is a response to the article on October 24, 2014 titled 'Don't flood hospitals with chikungunya cases'.

I certainly commend the author for clearly articulating some of the issues and also some remedies regarding the use of our health-care facilities. I do agree with the overall sentiments of the article and view that the Government is not the cause of the overall chik-V problem, but citizens need to play their role in keeping their surroundings clean. There is, however, sufficient responsibility on the part of any government to protect its citizens.

The Government should be well aware that Jamaica does not have a culture of practising what you suggest - proper disposal of their waste. While many Jamaicans care for their surroundings, and while there are laws on the books, there is little to no enforcement. And so children being born in this society will do what they see others do with no recourse.

The issue of waste disposal is a government responsibility for the health of the entire nation. Why should I be allowed to dispose of my waste inappropriately and affect my neighbours and community with no intervention by the State? In the US, for example, I would not be allowed to do this even if I wanted to. First, my homeowners' association would fine me, and if that wasn't settled, I'd be taken to court.

I don't expect chik-V to become an epidemic in the US because they simply do not have the vectors in large quantity for it to spread. If they took care of their waste as we do, they'd be in serious trouble with their public health.

While I can purchase a good-quality garbage bin and buy my 200 garbage bags every three months, many Jamaicans living on minimum wage couldn't spend the $1,400 to purchase those bags to dispose their garbage, so they put them directly in a bin outside, which attracts dogs, cats and rats; or they burn it; or they put it in gullies.

Another factor is a total disregard for cleanliness. The throwing of garbage on the ground while walking or driving, etc. is utter laziness and nastiness. In all these cases, Government can and must play a role in enforcement, providing resources and continuous public education, especially linking cleanliness with overall public health.

Government MUST begin to act in this regard. After all, any government must set the tone and direction of the country. Otherwise, who are the people going to follow?