‘This is not how we practise politics’
Portmore councillors squeal over alleged politicisation of garbage collection
In a damning criticism of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), councillors attending Wednesday’s general meeting of the Portmore Municipal Council accused the state agency of playing politics with garbage collection in the...
In a damning criticism of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), councillors attending Wednesday’s general meeting of the Portmore Municipal Council accused the state agency of playing politics with garbage collection in the municipality.
Andrew Gooden, NSWMA’s public cleansing manager for St Catherine, presented a report outlining improvements in the collection of garbage in the municipality and plans by the agency to increase collection activities as the Christmas season draws near.
No sooner had he finished before the councillors pounced, with Deputy Mayor Alrick Campbell making known his dissatisfaction.
“It is my understanding that different Jamaica Labour Party caretakers, in particular in the South East St Catherine constituency, can be seen leading the garbage trucks into the community to give the impression that they are the ones responsible for bringing the truck into the area,” Campbell, councillor for the Edgewater division, charged.
“This is not how we practise our politics in Portmore. We are generally civil about our politics, and I am asking that you ask them to desist,” he added.
“I have never participated in it. Never. I was on leave when this was alleged to have occurred. Prior to that, no knowledge of this,” Gooden responded.
Discussed at previous meeting
Braeton Councillor Anthony Wint then challenged Gooden on his denial, reminding him that when a group of Jamaica Labour Party affiliates were seen managing the collection in Naggo Head some time ago, it was brought to his attention by the councillor for the division, Gary Nicholson, at a previous council meeting.
Gooden, who was obviously peeved at this point, again strongly defended the agency, denying its involvement in any such practices.
“I have never seen any such behaviour, Mr Chairman. The agency does not carry out secret collections. All our collection schedules are listed on the agency’s website, and I also placed them in some citizens’ association WhatsApp groups. We don’t get involved in these practices. Not at all,” he responded, adding that both the deputy mayor and Wint were making statements not grounded in facts.
Fenley Douglas, councillor for the Waterford division, was not prepared to let Gooden off the hook and immediately supported his fellow councillors.
“Chairman, let me state that what my colleagues have stated, I have seen it, too,” Douglas said. “What is happening with Mr Gooden’s agency is not by accident; it is by design. And I am using this forum to ask my colleagues that the next time it happens, as elected representatives of people, we get together and remove that manager. Enough of the foolishness!”
Douglas said that these persons reportedly directing the garbage trucks were clearly politicking although they were not known caretakers.
“Be guided. Not everybody plays politics the same way. Just be guided,” the Waterford councillor cautioned.
The minority leader, Courtney Edwards, refrained from participating in the discussion.
A consensus was reached on a suggestion by Douglas that a letter be sent from the mayor’s office requesting a meeting with NSWMA Executive Director Audley Gordon to discuss the concerns.