Morant Bay dump to be relocated
Exactly a week after The Gleaner highlighted years of rising anger over the stench emanating from a St Thomas garbage dump, residents of Church Corner in Morant Bay may soon enjoy a breath of fresh air.
Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie, speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of the House, whose members were reviewing the 2020-21 Estimates of Expenditure, says land has been identified to relocate the Church Corner dump in St Thomas, while an alternative location is being sought for the Doctors Road disposal site in Portland.
The minister said the disposal sites are being relocated in light of stakeholder concerns over the potential environmental and health hazards both facilities pose at the present locations.
The Church Corner landfill is within proximity to the Morant Bay roundabout and Bustamante Bridge in St Thomas, while the Doctors Road site is located relatively close to prime resort property in Portland.
McKenzie said that the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) has paid a deposit on the land to which the Church Corner dump will be relocated, adding that negotiations to conclude the purchase are “well advanced”.
He indicated that the NSWMA has adhered to all protocols relevant to the establishment of the alternative landfill, and assured that the requisite due diligence was undertaken in the process of identifying the location, while adding that stakeholder consultations were facilitated.
“The entity has been working with the authorities, especially the National Environment and Planning Agency, in respect of the permit. So I [anticipate that] by the end of this calendar year, going into early next year, we [will see] the closure of the Church Corner facility, if all goes well,” the minister said.
SOLID WASTE TRANSPORTATION
Meanwhile, McKenzie said $29 million will be allocated from the ministry’s Parochial Revenue Fund, which supports the NSWMA’s work, to transport some 400 truckloads of solid waste from Church Corner to the Riverton City disposal site in Kingston.
The minister indicated that the undertaking “will commence shortly” and last between six and eight months, adding that the funds will cover the cost for acquiring heavy-duty equipment, loading and trucking the garbage.
Morant Bay residents – in particular those in communities such as Church Corner, Bamboo River, and an informal settlement known as Ackee Parade – say they are desperate for the operations of the NSWMA-run facility to be halted immediately. Promises of a relocation date back to 2008, residents say.
They have cited a range of health hazards, including air pollution.
“Every rubbish in a St Thomas, a deh suh it go. From the border dung suh to the border a Portland,” said Bryan Malcolm, a resident and businessman in Morant Bay.
Devon Williams, another resident, told The Gleaner that the problem has been a talking point for years and now warranted action.
“When the rain fall, the dutty water run out of the dump and run go down inna the village. The dump nuh stay good from mi a liikle boy, and mi a 52. Mi born come see it deh,” he said.
Morant Bay Mayor Michael Hue has been lobbying for garbage from the parish to be transported to the Riverton City dump in Kingston.
Hue, who is chairman of the St Thomas Municipal Corporation, acknowledged that he had received several complaints.