Tourism players urged to act against pollution
MONTEGO BAY tourism interests have been advised to take stock of pollution in the resort city, which threatens not only their individual products, but also that of the island as whole.
"It should be of grave concern to the tourism industry. Montego Bay is one of, if not the largest, resort towns in Jamaica and for it to be having this bad a solid waste management problem is shocking and unacceptable," said Suzanne Stanley, deputy chief executive officer (CEO) of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET).
She as speaking to The Gleaner on Tuesday following JET's recent release of research that documents the pollution of the city's South Gully, were the pile up of garbage has been credited for increases in pests and disease vectors, such as rats and mosquitoes.
"This is not just some plastic bottles floating down a gully, this represents something larger than that: poor solid waste management practises which relate to several things," she added.
Those things, Stanley noted, include a poor cultural attitude to waste disposal and a lack of infrastructure, as reflected in the study.
"Skips (for example), don't seem to be very effective as a place to put garbage because there are no trucks to empty the skips in the way that they are designed.
So it is labour intensive for it to be done," she noted, referencing findings from the research, which "focused on the communities surrounding the gully [and found] that both residential and commercial activities influence the type of garbage being dumped there".
"We are destroying our tourism product. Nobody wants to come to a country and see garbage on every street and in the sea," she said.
"And trash travels. So just because South Gully is not near a large hotel or beside a popular entertainment venue [does not mean it won't get there]. Garbage travels and it ends up on beaches across Jamaica and on other Caribbean islands," she cautioned.
Given this reality, Stanley said it is necessary for tourism actors to do their part in helping to keep the gully clean.
"We encourage them to get more involved. The people who are working in those hotels are the people who are living in Montego Bay.
Get involved in helping to clean up your town; educate the persons working in your hotels... educate your guests and, where possible, help with the infrastructure improvement," the JET deputy CEO said.
"It is the responsibility of the state to deal with infrastructure, but are we going to wait around for them to act? There has to be some pride in, at the very least, our tourism product," she noted.
Among other things, human faeces concealed in Styrofoam containers and plastic bags are dumped in the South Gully, together with an abundance used condoms.
Revelations over the level of waste affecting the South Gully one of four main drainage channels serving the western city, according to the study is symptomatic of the pollution occurring across the Jamaica.
"Over 300,000 tonnes of garbage are estimated to be dumped illegally every year in Jamaica," the study said.
"Most illegally dumped garbage ends up in drains, gullies and rivers. The composition of illegally dumped waste is varied plastic, Styrofoam, paper and cardboard, tree and garden cuttings, medical and market waste, but also cars, appliances, and tyres," it added.