NSWMA to purchase new trucks to ease strain on waste collection operations
The National Solid Waste Management Autho-rity (NSWMA) is set to purchase 17 new Renault trucks to complement its ageing fleet, even as it seeks to tighten its grip on illegal dumping and the enforcement of public urination laws.
Dennis Chung, chairman of the board of the waste-management agency, told The Gleaner yesterday that the trucks would be purchased at a cost of $250 million and should be in operation in another six months.
"We expect to make the order this month, as we have received the necessary approval from the National Contracts Commission (NCC)," said Chung, who took over the reins in April.
He stressed that the trucks were urgently needed to improve garbage collection for Jamaicans, as the NSWMA's stock of vehicles, as well as that of the private sector, is severely ageing.
"If we don't address that situation, we will not be able to do our jobs effectively, so we see that as a priority over the next year, that we need to get some trucks into the system," said Chung.
It's been rough going for the NSWMA in recent times.
Last month, the garbage-collection agency stated that it was only able to collect waste from heavily commercialised areas of (downtown) Kingston communities twice weekly, instead of the previously scheduled daily collection that was necessary.
The waste-management autho-rity said the backlog was because of the current resource challenges, which it said are mainly with compactor trucks.
Chung noted yesterday that, at present, the NSWMA collects garbage in other residential communities, on an average, once weekly, in both urban and rural communities.
"We want to get garbage collection up to two to three times per week."
Chung said the NSWMA was currently distributing its resources across communities in order to maintain the once-per-week schedule.
He told The Gleaner that there are 40 trucks in the fleet that have been parked because they are in need of repair.
"Some of them are in need of minor repairs and others more major," said Chung. "I don't know if we can get all 40 in, but we are aiming to get at least 20 back into the system within the next two to three months."
But, even as he focuses on the garbage collection from residential domains, Chung warned that the NSWMA would not take its glare from the unsavoury practices of some commercial entities.
To this end, he said a director of enforcement has been appointed in the NSWMA to tackle the unhealthy practices of some Jamaicans and entities who breach health and sanitary laws.
A huge rodent infestation in some heavily commercialised areas in both urban and rural business districts that are dominated by fast-food outlets has been a major concern to the authorities.
"We are going to be looking at businesses that are illegally dumping their commercial waste and continue the process of ticketing them or, where necessary take them before the courts."
He stressed that businesses needed to be more responsible with the disposal of waste.
"When you look at some of the garbage dumped on the roadsides and open lots, it is caused by people who have illegally dumped their garbage and we are determined to reduce that," he said.
Chung said the NSWMA would also be looking at ramping up the enforcement of ticketing persons who have a habit of urinating on the streets and throwing refuse through car windows.
"We are going to step up our enforcement across the island," he warned. "The Corporate Area and major towns are places that we plan to start on, but we are going to be stepping up across the island."