Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Letter of the Day | Public skips critical in the fight against garbage

Published:Tuesday | December 26, 2017 | 2:00 AM


Once upon a time, there was a public skip in my community of Coopers Hill, St. Andrew. Given the sporadic and unpredictable collection of garbage that obtained even back then, we were at least able to bag our garbage and dispose of it safely. Then one day it disappeared. I believe that it was removed by the NSWMA as they felt that the overflowing skip posed a public health hazard in the community. I stand to be corrected. And in fact, I invite the NSWMA to make a public statement about the placement and use of skips as a tool in their stated mission to "keep Jamaica clean."

It is a fact that garbage collection continues to be sporadic and unpredictable in many communities across the island. Despite best efforts to bag and containerise garbage, when two weeks elapse without a pick-up, what happens? Garbage receptacle overflow. Animals get into the garbage. Rodents and insects celebrate as they have the best environment to "bruk loose." Some citizens have vehicles that they can load up with their mounting garbage and dispose of. But where?

The Riverton dump in Kingston is not an option. I don't think it is safe or practical or legal for private citizens to be moving in and out of this locale. In the absence of public skips, people end up creating mini dumps in corners, on sidewalks, down the hillside and in gullies.

The utility of a well-placed skip comes into sharp relief. Even the citizens that don't have vehicles to transport their garbage can now plan and take steps to dispose of their uncollected garbage in the public skip.

Of course, there has to be a public education campaign to accompany the placement of these skips. Work through the schools. Spread a clear, concise message about bagging the garbage before dumping in the skip, and about not lighting fires in the skip. Place fliers in community shops. Get private sector sponsorship to get the message on proper use of public skips out on radio stations. Use the JIS to spread the message. Work through the parish councils.

Let's not kid ourselves: the sporadic, unpredictable collection will continue due to resource constraints. Mitigate this very real risk by providing an alternative disposal arrangement in the form of skips that can work with less frequent collection.

Kelly McIntosh