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Letter of the Day | Visitors to Kingston greeted by garbage and stench

Published:Monday | May 29, 2023 | 12:13 AM


I have been coming Jamaica a few times from the United States for four decades now to visit my family. I’m American and my husband’s family hails from Kingston. I have a special love for Jamaica and a strong connection to the island – which is why I feel compelled to write this letter.

On my last recent trip in mid-May, I was struck by the vast amount of trash and debris that continue to accumulate on streets and in the roadways. It shocked and disgusted me. I’ve observed, over the years, a continual deterioration of sanitation standards throughout the city.

Kingston is working hard to attract business development as a major tourism player. Its commitment to developing a ‘green economy’, as evidenced by its Vision 2030 Jamaica, is being hijacked by the deplorable amounts of trash and garbage strewn along the roadways. On my ride across town from the airport, I encountered every sort of debris – junk food and fast-food wrappers, plastic bottles of all sizes (including one-gallon containers), cardboard boxes and rotten fruits, and garbage bags filled with who knows what. Is this really what we want visitors to see as their first impression of this beautiful island?

I walked to the supermarket and carefully picked my way around sidewalks clogged with trash. The sidewalk higglers operate around these garbage piles. The stench and unsanitary conditions make me want to run the other way – but there is nowhere to run that is not trash-infested and unsanitary.

As a developing city, Kingston needs to clean up its act if it wants to compete and attract tourism dollars. Kingston’s many assets and its natural beauty are obscured and overrun by its dirty, nasty streets and roads that deter visitors from wanting to come back, and make it hard for residents to feel pride in their communities.

It’s time for the Government to go ‘back to basics’ and devise ways to get this wonderful city cleaned up. Incentivise residents to clean up. Enlist government agencies to find solutions to this burgeoning problem. Jamaica’s future as a Caribbean leader depends on this.


Stamford, Connecticut