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Unreliable NSWMA service leads to burning in Portland

Published:Thursday | May 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM
When the garbage truck doesn’t come around, the residents resort to burning the garbage.
Refuse, including plastic bottles, dumped in this river near Boundbrook in Portland.

Port Antonio, Portland:

THE SHORTAGE of water continues to plague several communities across Portland, which is renowned for its high rate of rainfall. Amid that, the chronic problem of improper garbage disposal, including by burning, is becoming an even greater concern.

With hardly any sign of rain, frequent trips to rivers, where water levels are falling, have now become part of the daily routine for most residents, especially those in Buff Bay, the Rio Grande Valley, Stony Hill, Boundbrook, Fairy Hill, Boston, and Breast Works.

But while water is scarce, the improper garbage disposal in deep-rural communities is becoming more common.

"The garbage truck comes now and then," 68-year-old Fredrick Hall, who lives in the Rio Grande Valley area, told The Gleaner. "As a result, we are forced to either burn the garbage or dig holes and bury it. Others have resorted to the dumping of garbage in nearby rivers, which is a dangerous and harmful practice. It is rather frustrating, but unless the garbage truck comes by more often, the situation will get worse."

A similar view was shared by 71-year-old farmer Howard Smith, a resident of Stony Hill. He said there are times when the garbage truck does not visit the community for several days, sometimes for more than a week. This situation results in a huge garbage pile-up in that district and also the neighboring community of Boundbrook.




"We don't dump our garbage in rivers, as the community is without a river," he said. "Our usual practice is to build a fire and burn the waste. In recent times, I have seen the fire truck speeding past, going into the community, which could very well be an indication that a fire had got out of hand."

Port Antonio Deputy Mayor Benny White told The Gleaner yesterday that the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) does not have enough trucks to adequately serve the needs of the parish.

"The NSWMA originally had a fleet Ö of eight trucks assigned to the parish," said White. "But today, only two are functional, with the remainder badly in need of repairs. While the NSWMA has contracted privately owned trucks to collect garbage in some communities, residents living in deep-rural communities are made to suffer, as the shortage of trucks to remove waste oftentimes results in the town area being prioritised. And with garbage piling up, some residents have indulged in the practice of burning waste or dumping them in rivers," he added.

White said that the Portland Parish Council has been doing what it can to collect garbage across the parish in a timely manner.