Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Letter of the Day | Make a clean, safer Jamaica your legacy, Holness

Published:Friday | November 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

I watched the all-too-familiar scenes of catastrophic flooding on my Twitter timeline and on the television evening news. The streets of Montego Bay became raging torrents of black water, covering cars, mounds of garbage, mostly plastic, swirling to form a horrid unsightly, frightening skin atop the waves.

People ran and left their vehicles. Pedestrians were stranded. Montego Bay came to a standstill. Again. The event occurred after prolonged rainfall. But would the flooding have been as catastrophic as it was had the drainage been able to accommodate more flow-through? Did garbage in the gullies and drains in any way contribute to the flooding?

I flashed back to about a year ago when I listened in horror as a caller to a popular day-time radio talk show described his passenger's attitude towards litter. "He finished eating his KFC in my taxi and then just threw the bag, cup and box with bones out the window of the moving vehicle. I told him that he shouldn't have done that, that he could have just left it in the car, that I would have disposed of it when next I stopped. He got vexed with me. Asked me wha mi think garbage truck and garbage man deh deh fah ..."

The same taxi man told the talk-show host that he ferries visitors to the island around Montego Bay and he is repeatedly asked about the amount of visible garbage in the city. The visitors are appalled, quizzical and disdainful all at the same time. "Is there some sort of problem?" they ask in wonderment.


Clear problem


We have a garbage problem. Just look into every single gully in Kingston that you drive past: garbage and more garbage. No TVJ nightly newscast is complete without the obligatory "raw sewage overflowing" story, the overflow the result of drains clogged with solid waste.

The garbage crisis we face demands visible leadership from the top leadership that articulates the vision for a clean Jamaica repeatedly, that holds the responsible agents accountable, that allocates the resources needed to solve this problem, and that lets all stakeholders know in no uncertain terms that order and cleanliness is a non-negotiable imperative.

The bottom line: We cannot afford NOT to allocate resources to implement recommendations suggested. This will only happen with a clear mandate from the prime minister and his tangible, visible support. Take on this challenge of making Jamaica clean, Mr Holness. Getting to a cleaner Jamaica is low-hanging fruit that we can ill afford not to pick. Make a clean and therefore safer Jamaica your lasting legacy.

Kelly McIntosh