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NSWMA says not enough garbage trucks in St James

Published:Friday | September 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau: An official of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) yesterday told the St James Parish Council that the agency was under-equipped to carry out garbage collection in the parish, which includes the parish capital, Montego Bay.

"We have only nine government units in the parish of St James. We are coming from a period, four years ago, when we had 23 trucks. So we are using nine trucks to do the work of 23," Patrick Gilchrist, NSWMA public cleansing officer, told the monthly meeting of the parish council.

"If we have a complement of at least 22 or 23 [trucks], we should be able to collect in every area twice per week in the parish, but we do not have that."

Gilchrist added that the NSWMA has had to hire private contractors in order to offset the difficulty in timely and adequate garbage collection.

CHALLENGING SITUATION

"We [currently] have seven private contractors in the parish of St James, with a total of 10 units, but from time to time, we have breakdowns and other constraints," said Gilchrist. "We do try to seek funding to assist us in additional cleaning from time to time, but with tight fiscal restraints, we can do so much and no more."

This revelation was cause for concern for deputy mayor of Montego Bay, Michael Troupe, who pointed out the possibility of the inadequate garbage disposal and collection causing illnesses.

"My concern is that with the outbreak - or perceived outbreak - of the chikungunya virus, the garbage pile-up could be a factor in the breeding of mosquitoes [and] we are now in the rainy season," said Troupe, referencing the recent increase in the number of persons infected with the mosquito-borne virus. The concern follows confirmation by the Ministry of Health of 24 cases in St Thomas, St Ann, St Catherine, and Kingston and St Andrew.

"Is it possible that you could ask the private sector or some other agency to donate some garbage bags, and we could go around in the areas and donate those garbage bags and say, 'This is the proper way to dispose of your garbage because of the outbreak of a certain type of disease'?" Troupe asked Gilchrist.

"That is a welcome suggestion, Councillor … . It is a good suggestion, but it will take time, and we will have to do what we have to do, to try to encourage people to come assist us in the parish," Gilchrist replied.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com