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JIS News

If people were to religiously follow the old adage ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ then the ongoing problem of garbage being dumped into drains might not have existed.
The dumping of garbage into drains and gullies has become a very serious problem resulting in a number of hazards including making certain areas prone to increased levels of flooding. In response to these dangers such as these, the National Solid Waste Authority (NSWMA) has continuously sought to sensitise the public about the importance of keeping drains free of garbage.
“Garbage and solid waste clogs and diminishes the free flow of drains resulting in area flooding and mass flooding, erosion of hillsides, destruction or displacement of infrastructures as well creates sanitation and public health hazards,” Director of Enforcement and Compliance at the NSWMA, Ann Rodriquez tells JIS News.
Miss Rodriquez informs that this dangerous practice also leads to the pollution of waterways and coastal zones. She notes that there are several reasons why people dump garbage into drains. “They do so due to limited access to formal collection systems, irresponsible behaviour, lack of civic pride as well as the location of their communities near drains and a lack of awareness of the associated dangers,” she explains.
The recent passage of Hurricanes Dennis and Emily once again highlighted the importance of having clean drains. The Director pointed out that although the hurricanes were remainders of the importance of keeping drains clean, it was also important to keep drains clean under normal conditions to prevent other hazards.
“People should cease the dumping of garbage into drains in order to protect their property, preserve their lives and livestock and demonstration civic pride,” she notes.
Continuing Miss Rodriquez adds, “proper waste disposal also improves and encourages good community aesthetics and reduces sanitation and public health hazards such as eliminating breeding grounds for disease causing elements”.
The NSWMA is therefore working to change the status quo. Miss Rodriquez informs that the Authority has been employing several measures. “We are improving our collection services of bulk waste, special waste, communal collection for informal settlements and we are carrying out special collection in rural and hilly areas. We are also carrying out public education campaigns on waste reduction, appropriate solid waste containerisation and the public cleansing regulations,” she explains.
In addition the NSWMA has been carrying out ongoing revision and updating of their collection schedule, and extending their services to previously uncovered areas and communities.
Other measures being carried out by the Authority include research on alternative solid waste disposal methods, supporting corporate community, and other collaborative clean up programmes between private and public stakeholders. Most importantly is the law governing solid waste management. Miss Rodriquez tells JIS that the NSWMA is seeking to enforce the National Solid Waste Act, of 2001. “The enforcement of the National Solid Waste Act is critical to our efforts of ensuring the proper waste disposal by citizens,” she notes.
The enactment of the National Solid Waste Act created the NSWMA and mandates inter alia, that the Authority take such steps as are necessary for the effective management of solid waste in Jamaica in order to safeguard public health as well as the collection, transportation, re-use and recycling of waste in an environmentally sound manner.
The Act establishes a licensing regime for operators of solid waste management facilities and the operators of collection and transfer services.
It is very important that the measures put in place in place are adhered to and followed on a consistent basis to ensure drains remain clean, Miss Rodriquez notes. She explains how the NSWMA intends to ensure the sustainability of the measures put in place, “We will continue a working relationship with the National Works Agency (NWA) and Parish Councils to dovetail activities so that in instances where the pick up of debris previously removed from drains does not form part of the contractors’ package, the NSWMA will pick up, upon agreement with all agencies concerned,” she says.
In additions she informs that the NSWMA will carry out enforcement measures where feasible. The collection of garbage is crucial to a clean and friendly environment and while the NSWMA looks to play its part, it is calling on citizens to ensure they keep their end of the bargain to protect their surroundings by properly disposing of waste and keeping their drains clean.