Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Letter of the day: The scourge of litter and harassment

Published:Thursday | June 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM


I listened with a great deal of scepticism to the emphatic declaration by Col Daniel Price in a newscast Tuesday evening that an islandwide clean-up campaign will shortly be launched. So, what's new? Many such campaigns have been launched over these many years, and predictably, within a week - sometime days - it's back to square one as the sidewalks seemingly revert to being mini-garbage dumps. In many cases, this condition remains for an inordinately long time before being addressed, so that the island remains in an almost permanent filthy state.

I have seen this vividly illustrated in Ocho Rios, a resort town where locals and visitors taking their morning walk or jogging are faced with the disgusting sight of every category of garbage strewn in their path. This I find most embarrassing as I take my morning walk. These visitors must think us among the filthiest people on earth. The claim is made that there are inadequate funds to clean up more frequently, and regrettably, the litterbugs, more often than not, are not brought to justice.

So we have a problem. The only realistic solution is to mount a meaningful anti-litter campaign, which should include :

(1) A publicity campaign in the press and electronic media appealing to Jamaicans to take pride in their country.

(2) Make sure that there are adequate garbage bins strategically placed.

(3) Place anti-litter signs along roadways most affected with the slogan 'Don't be a litterbug. Keep Jamaica tidy'.

(4) Ask a private sector organisation or service club to underwrite the placement of garbage bins of appropriate size and with the above slogan in all public-passenger vehicles.

I call on the minister of local government to give serious thought to this suggestion.

Another matter that has been currently in the press is Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill's disclosure that cruise visitors are shying away from getting off their ships because of harassment. This is not new, and certainly has been having an adverse effect on the industry. Cruise lines have withdrawn from Ocho Rios in the past because of visitor harassment.




This seemingly perpetual problem requires our prime minister to take action herself, be bold and pragmatic, recognise the problem and take a decision as to what action, no matter how harsh, must be taken to eliminate it. In other words, take a leaf out of the book of Lee Kuan Yew, a brave and pragmatic leader who was not afraid to take what he saw as an effective way - even if harsh - to address problems that were similar to ours. The result is that Singapore is today a First World nation with probably the highest per capita income, and cleanest nation in the world.

I can guarantee that if radical steps are not taken to address this problem, 10 to 15 years from now, we will still be wringing our hands as to how to cope with this problem.

It is mandatory that every effort is made to address them.