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NSWMA equipped to clean up Ja - Arscott

Published:Thursday | October 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU: LOCAL GOVERNMENT Minister Noel Arscott has said, despite the chronic shortfall in resources at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), the agency is still able to cope with the added challenge of the collection and disposal of solid waste posed by the outbreak of the chikungunya virus.

Speaking with The Gleaner on Tuesday following the keynote address on the opening day of the three-day Caribbean Solid Waste Management Conference in St James, Arscott said, while the current fleet of the NSWMA is limited, his ministry has received an allocation from the Ministry of Finance to boost the agency's ability to effectively collect and dispose of waste.

"There are issues with the type of fleet that is available to the solid waste, but we have been given additional resources by the Ministry of Finance so we will target the areas of heavy infestation first," said Arscott. ".... So we will pursue that ... we will evaluate how successful it is and we will continue to upgrade and change."

Multi-agency strategy

Arscott said the local government ministry had formulated a multi-agency strategy to deal with the issue following a meeting involving the ministries of local government, health and tourism, all mayors, the National Water Commission, the National Works Agency, and others.

The local government minister said each parish will have its own programme and each mayor has been instructed to make a submission to him for evaluation.

"Each parish is developing an approach appropriate to their own local domestic situation. I have asked the mayors to take charge of the situation and to aggressively deal with the matter. In addition, $30 million has been disbursed from the local government ministry to parish councils to assist in their programmes," Arscott stated.

In response to a recent call by Opposition Spokesman on Local Government, Desmond McKenzie, for Government to move with alacrity to get compactors to boost clean-up efforts, Arscott said this was not possible at this time.

"These are not off-the-shelf items. So you can't just pick up a compactor and just bring into the country. Some funds are being made available to the NSWMA to fix those that are able to be fixed, and we can bring in another 20 that are down. But in the meantime, we are depending on private-sector owners, in a collaborative approach, to assist in this process.