Residents will play a major role in Stamping Out Littering and Illegal Dumping (SOLID) in communities says the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Executive Director, Audley Gordon.
Speaking with JIS News, Mr. Gordon said the programme will address areas that have become “eyesores” across the island.
“Illegal dumping is a problem. People just find a convenient spot when nobody is looking, they dump there. Vehicles drive around looking for a place to dump-off an old fridge they have instead of just going to one of the disposal sites and pay the thousand-dollar tipping fee,” Mr. Gordon said.
“We have a plan and we have started in a soft way to stamp out illegal dumping. What we intend to do with this is not just to clean the areas and leave. What we are doing is for those that are on the main roads we have a plan to clear the sites and to occupy the sites. We want to beautify those spaces,” he added.
Mr. Gordon noted that the NSWMA has been working with the municipal corporations and residents of communities to clear areas of garbage, plant palms and other trees and engage residents to water and maintain the areas.
Communities benefiting from the programme so far include Luana, St. Elizabeth, Tawes Pen, St. Catherine and three locations along Old Hope Road, St. Andrew between the intersection at Lady Musgrave Road and Downer Avenue.
“The SOLID programme will include the community in a great way. We have to go in first with the community meetings to sensitize them. We hope that by engaging the citizens and nearby residents and get them to be part of the whole programme that we can have that kind of partnership going where we come in, clean, beautify and you who live in or traverse the area police it and keep it beautiful,” Mr. Gordon said.
He added that the partnership is needed as “people will push the envelope if they think they can get away with something.”
Citing Singapore, with its exemplar waste management programme, as an example, Mr. Gordon stated that the Authority is fully aware that the SOLID programme will require additional support to realise the national success envisioned for it.
“It has to be a sustained and robust public education programme buttressed by a galvanizing of the entire country. Everyone in the country has to be speaking the same language and we should have clean-up days,” he said.
“We can have several clean up days for the year. Look at what Singapore did – clean-up, so that after a while cleaning up becomes a habit. And yes, get some fines to support it. We need a good enforcement arm with fines that really hurt, then we will really fix this problem of littering and illegal dumping,” Mr. Gordon added.
The team from the NSWMA will continue to visit the communities where the SOLID programme has started to continue the dialogue around proper garbage disposal and community beautification to ensure the buy-in of residents.