Do more than talk about prosecuting litter bugs

Friday, January 25, 2013

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Readers will forgive us if we're not excited by Local Government Minister Noel Arscott's warning last weekend that the Administration will get tough on litter bugs.

Until we actually see the authorities enforcing, with greater purpose, the Anti-Litter Act, Minister Arscott's declaration will remain a mere announcement — a skill perfected by our politicians who obviously believe that talk is more effective than action.

We share Minister Arscott's view, however, that decency and sanity need to be returned to the country. For what now exists is a basic Wild West attitude to public sanitation and civic pride.

Anyone who doubts this just needs to recall the abominable mess made of downtown Kingston over the Christmas holidays and the fact that it took the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) days to have the place cleaned up.

Of course, the people who made the mess in the first place cannot escape blame, as they obviously lack an appreciation for keeping their surroundings clean.

But that attitude, of course, has been encouraged by the authorities' failure to monitor those areas and prosecute the litter bugs.

Last September, when the NSWMA reported that they had issued tickets to more than 1,600 persons for breaches of the Anti-Litter Law over six months, we had felt that at last the authorities were serious about enforcement.

The NSWMA had also told us that 600 persons were arrested, charged, and taken to court over the same period.

In addition, Ms Jennifer Edwards, the executive director of the NSWMA, had said that her agency had embarked on a campaign to clean up mini dumps across the island.

However, Ms Edwards gave an indication of the gravity of the problem the country faces when she said that oftentimes after the NSWMA has cleared these mini dumps, garbage is placed there by the following day.

That the NSWMA took the decision to dispatch enforcement and community relations teams into communities to speak to residents about proper storage and disposal of waste was highly commendable.

Given the positive results of that programme, as reported by Ms Edwards, we hope that the agency is continuing that effort. For it is clear that there are still many individuals who need to hear from these enforcement and community relations teams.

We are also convinced that, had the authorities been resolute about enforcing the Anti-Litter Law, the country would have been cleaner, providing a more wholesome and healthy environment in which to live.

Achieving that shouldn't be difficult or expensive for the authorities. All that is required is for those people found guilty of littering to be sentenced to community service with the specific task of cleaning the streets, verges, gullies, and all other public areas.

We suspect that, after at least two weeks of doing that type of work, they would refrain from littering and discourage others from doing so.




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