Sun | Sep 23, 2018

This is rubbish, NSWMA

Published:Monday | September 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM

I expect that the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is doing what it can to clean up the garbage that we generate. However, it's not good enough. I know that times have changed, our population has grown enormously, we have severe financial constraints and people are squatting in diverse places. Nevertheless, those who try to organise their garbage for collection suffer several inconveniences, indignities and tribulations.

Collections are unscheduled and undependable. The NSWMA can never ever tell anyone what time of day, what day of the week, or even which week of the month the garbage will be collected. Collection trucks may turn up unexpectedly at weird times and even on Christmas Day. In these modern times, with multiple modes of communication, why can't they simply inform a designated member of the community when the truck will come by?

Without prior knowledge of collection days and times, some people place their garbage in expanded-metal containers to protect it from dogs and rodents. However, oftentimes the garbage remains out in the sun for so long that it reeks to high heavens, right in front of the gate, distressing everyone and embarrassing the homeowners.

Most opt to pray that they will be home to listen out for the telltale sound of the truck horn to rush out and risk physical injury hauling the garbage that has accumulated for one week or for several weeks. Sometimes women must abandon their pride and modesty in order to get rid of rotting and malodourous garbage from their premises.

Nighties, scanty garb, transparent 'dusters', exposed underwear, bedroom slippers, hair curlers, unkempt hair, bath caps, baggy eyes and faces creased by hours of sleep all make their debut in full view of all and sundry for the sake of catching the extremely unpredictable, elusive and enigmatic garbage truck. Missing the truck ensures a pile up of smelly, unsightly, unhygienic bags for another week or two, or sometimes three.

And recently, the team of garbage collectors have added a new dimension to our misery. I am fully aware that 'garbage' does not include plant cuttings. However, small bags of clippings were usually simply tossed into the truck along with the other stuff. Now, they are refusing refuse that looks anything like vegetation. So, if you put out rotting food and a few twigs are in the same bag they leave it behind unless you are willing to give them money.


Some men working on the NSWMA trucks are using the need to get rid of a little vegetation to extort residents. So, what are we to do with the little cuttings and clippings that we may generate? Are individual homeowners to hire special NSWMA trucks specifically to take small amounts of vegetation away? We cannot burn it and many of us have no space to use it to make mulch. How much is too much cuttings/trimmings? Or is it that any cuttings is too much? This needs clarification.

In spite of all the hyperbole about national pride and anti-littering, I still see people flinging all sorts of containers and wrappers all over the place. After rain, take a look in the Kingston Harbour or at any gully or river exit along our shores. A veritable flotilla of plastics will be seen slowly drifting along to cause irreparable harm to our fragile and essential ecosystem.

Our gullies provide easily accessible dumping grounds for anyone, but especially for the squatters along their banks. Since politics dictates that gully-bank dwellers are never prosecuted, the NSWMA should provide garbage skips near those communities and at several points along chosen streets.

I believe that the cash-strapped NSWMA can do much more with the scarce resources that it has to work with. Our citizens deserve much better.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and