Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Anti-litter law to be strengthened

Published:Monday | September 19, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Desmond McKenzie

The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development is pursuing measures aimed at strengthening the anti-litter law. Among these are legislative amendments to significantly increase the fines and custodial sentences for breaches, stated portfolio minister Desmond McKenzie.

As part of the preparation for submission to Cabinet, McKenzie has met with the ministry's legal team to "fine-tune" the recommendations.

Arguing the rationale for the amendments, the minister emphasised that all other avenues of recourse pursued by the administration to curtail breaches have been "exhausted".

He was speaking to journalists during a tour of flood-affected sections of Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston on Friday.

The flooding was caused partly by blockage of the gullies adjacent to the roadway with debris, mainly plastic bottles and Styrofoam containers. It was also attributed to activities associated with an expansion project being undertaken by the National Works Agency (NWA) to widen the road.

Several entities, including Wallenford Coffee Company Limited and the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries were flooded.

The minister pointed out that "millions of dollars" have been spent on public education with virtually little success in curbing the problem, hence the need to revisit how littering can be effectively addressed.

McKenzie noted that the existing fines "are nothing for anybody to lose a night's sleep over," citing the payments made by persons issued with tickets by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) for breaches. Data indicates that 300 of the over 500 tickets issued between January and August this year were paid.

STRENGTHENED STRUCTURE

The minister said amendments to the law must be supported by a strengthened enforcement structure.

To this end, he disclosed that the ministry is training a new cadre of municipal police officers now enrolled at the National Police Academy at Twickenham Park, St Catherine.

Additionally, he said the ministry will be reviewing the complement of municipal officers at the NSWMA to strengthen it.

"I believe that persons must be made to understand the danger that littering poses, even if it means that we have to institute some drastic actions," McKenzie said.