Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Informal garbage sorters call for regularisation... urge government to get more youths in the trade

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Metal destined for the scrap-metal trade hangs from a scale at the Retirement Dump.

Informal solid waste sorters at the Retirement Dump in St James, say they are hoping that, the Government will put measures in place, to assist them to regularise their operations, as well as get other unskilled young men involved in the trade.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness recently announced that, the Government would be working on a waste-management policy, which includes the divestment of the Riverton disposal site in Kingston, to investors with 'the right technology, to use the dump to create electricity and jobs."

One of the Retirement-based sorters, who asked to be identified only by his alias 'Bumpy', believes a similar plan for the St James dump is imminent, but suggests that when the time comes, instead of asking them to leave, the government should work in close partnership with them.

"Whole heap a treasure over yah. But what me want di government fi know is: don't tek diss piece a land from wi," said Bumpy. "We want di youth dem fi stay and pick out di things and sell it to dem (recycling companies). Di place big enough; we can share."

"Mi hear dem a talk bout some currant (electricity generation) ting enuh, so if Riverton a go have it, dem a go eventually put it a Retirement too," continued Bumpy. "It good, because it a go save on electricity cost, but at the same time dem (new investors) a go response fi ova yah a dat mi a run from."

While he is uncertain as to how he will fit into the plans for the dump, the hopeful solid waste sorters was quite resolute in declaring that, solid waste sorting is lucrative and that the site has the potential to help the government in its job-creation and revenue generation efforts.

Another sorter, who identified himself only as Martin, sought to explain the importance of the role being played by the over 500 sorters operating at the dump.

"Our job is very important because all a di scrap metal weh we teck up we sell dem back and dem go to a bigger company weh teck dem from MoBay go a town fi export," explained Martin. "We take up bottle, hog feeding, can, loam copper, stainless steel, brass. Soda and beer bottles go back to D & G, and pig feeding to the pig dem because wi a pig farmer; wi a hustler."

The 25 years old Brandon, who is the father of one child, says he has been sorting at the site for the past three years, as jobs are not readily available. He too believe the site could be used to create jobs to reduce youth unemployment.

In fact, while not pouring scorn on the government's plan to address youth unemployment, Bumpy thinks that most of the young people in and around Retirement lack the qualification required for regular jobs.

"The government say him have jobs fi di yute dem ... but nuff a di yute dem no qualify (because) is job like police, soldier and fireman, warder, nurse and call centre," said Bumpy. "So with this (sorting), you can still have a future outta dem, weh dem still a put towards all di tax weh you a go draw; dem still a help out di country."

According to Bumpy, he would not have a problem paying taxes from whatever he earns from the dump, noting that taxes is important for the economy of the country.

"Wi no have no problem fi pay tax because if you even buy one biscuit dung di road, it gone inna it," said a laughing Bumpy. "... No teck weh di place from di yute dem; di place fi deh yah. Do your thing; but we still supposed to can search di garbage, because we know what a gwaan inna di garbage; dem (external investors) naw go know. "

- C. G.