NSWMA - we deserve better

Published: Wednesday | January 2, 2013 Comments 0

Dennie Quill, Contributor

Unsightly pile-up of weeks' old garbage is not what most people expect to see in their communities - especially at Christmas time. But this is what confronted many residents of Corporate Area communities during the Christmas holidays when it is the usual tradition to spruce up one's surroundings.

The tell-tale tree branches lying on curbsides in communities off Red Hills Road and Molynes Road reminded the onlooker that hurricane Sandy debris had not been collected since late October when the storm hit Jamaica. Why should it take so long for these areas to be cleared? Recently, frustrated residents vented their feelings about poor garbage management in their areas.

The reaction by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) was one of surprise. Obviously the top brass of the agency do not drive around the Corporate Area because there is plenty evidence to confirm the residents' complaints of lack of garbage clearance.

perennial blot

Garbage collection and the disposal of solid waste has been a perennial blot on the city's management. One gets the impression that the folks over at the NSWMA do not really have a clue how to efficiently manage the city's solid waste and fulfill their mandate to collect, treat and dispose of garbage. For example, when complaints are filed about the non-collection of garbage, is the contractor issued a warning letter? Are contractors fined or fired for lousy performance? Is the work of NSWMA contractors subject to review?

Inefficiency aside, the city managers do not appear to understand the serious public-health risks that improper garbage collection and disposal pose to citizens and the environment. Scores of citizens have been forced to live with health nuisances such as the putrid odour from rotting garbage, rats, flies and mosquitoes attracted by the garbage. The Ministry of Health, now fighting a dengue outbreak, should be very interested in how the city's solid waste is managed because it could face other epidemics including leptospirosis.

issues with trucks

One of the explanations most often given for the non-collection of garbage is that the 'truck break down'. This is not surprising. The fleet of dilapidated trucks seen limping along the city's street could not have passed any fitness test. Most of the trucks seem to be in urgent need of repair and maintenance. So while trucks go on the blink and contractors fuss with the NSWMA over non-payment, the piles have grown with some citizens opting to illegally dump trash in open lots.

Interestingly, although sanitation crews did not perform well this year they made sure to deposit their envelopes soliciting gifts from customers in November. And to ensure that they collect their stuffed envelopes in time for Christmas they were very visible in many residential areas in the days leading up to Christmas. There are reports that they visited some areas twice in one day while citizens in some areas complained that they had not seen a garbage truck in four weeks.

Kingston has become a very dirty city and the NSWMA and the city managers need to find a path to achieve better solid-waste management. Citizens who live and work in the nation's capital deserve to do so in a clean environment. It is time for the NSWMA to review its strategies in order to find better ways of providing a consistent and environmentally friendly garbage-collection service.

Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.

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