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  • Cabinet has received an update from Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, on the fire at the Riverton Landfill in St. Andrew.
  • During a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister today (July 30), the Minister also informed that he gave Cabinet an extensive update on the landfills across the country and what has been happening.
  • “It is clear, based on the information that has come to us, that there is a deliberate attempt to dislocate the work of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), and the fires that we have seen can only be described as acts of arson,” Mr. McKenzie said.

Cabinet has received an update from Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, on the fire at the Riverton Landfill in St. Andrew.

During a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister today (July 30), the Minister also informed that he gave Cabinet an extensive update on the landfills across the country and what has been happening.

“It is clear, based on the information that has come to us, that there is a deliberate attempt to dislocate the work of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), and the fires that we have seen can only be described as acts of arson,” Mr. McKenzie said.

The NSWMA has ordered an immediate investigation surrounding the circumstances under which it appears arsonists lit two fires at the Riverton disposal site off Spanish Town Road in less than 12 hours.

Mr. McKenzie noted that over the past two months, some 10 fires have occurred on landfills across the country.

“We have seen where the cost to the country is going to run us close to over $100 million. I want to make the point that the funds to fight the fires [are] not readily available. We have to take those resources from elsewhere in order to assist with putting out these fires,” he said.

For his part, Acting Commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Stewart Beckford, said that, currently, there are three fire units with 30 personnel at the disposal site.

“The good news is we have covered approximately 70 per cent of the affected area. Firefighting operations still continue and will continue for the rest of the day, and we are estimating that between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., we should be able to cover the additional 30 per cent,” he said.

The Acting Commissioner, however, warned that the smoke will linger for a while longer.

“The wind is giving us a hard time as it keeps changing direction, but we are quite optimistic that we should be able to bring the situation under control in terms of covering the entire area. The smoke that is now there has reduced a bit, and we are estimating that by tomorrow morning (July 31), we should see a significant reduction in the level of smoke emitting from the site,” Mr. Beckford said.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the NSWMA, Dennis Chung, expressed gratitude to China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), noting that they were able to deploy some of their equipment to the site.

He also said that it will cost the NSWMA an estimated $10 million to extinguish the blaze at the Riverton Landfill.