Editorial

Stop 'dutty up' Jamaica

Monday, July 24, 2017

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We note yesterday's news that a Negril hotel operator has been fined $10,000 and duly warned for breaching Jamaica's anti-litter law.

As we understand it, this breach involved a private garbage disposal arrangement that went awry.

Like most others, we are concerned that the fine of $10,000 seems woefully inadequate. We take note of word from the very activist Local Government Minister Mr Desmond McKenzie that Cabinet has approved a submission for increase in anti-litter fines and that he expects to make an announcement on new arrangements by year-end.

Of course, the Government and its garbage collection, management and disposal agencies have their own extreme difficulties.

Notwithstanding the acquisition of new garbage trucks, the accumulation and careless disposal of solid waste in the capital Kingston, smaller cities, towns, and villages appears, if anything, to be on the rise.

Uncollected garbage in skips, drums, bags, spill over into the streets and are dragged about by dogs, other animals and even the mentally ill. Despite constant chatter about the risk of flooding and disease, the throwing of garbage into gullies and open lots remains commonplace.

Concerned people have complained to the point where many don't bother anymore.

A large part of the problem is that the State-run National Solid Waste Management Authority simply doesn't have enough money to do its job properly. That's because the debt-burdened Government, stretched to the limit in terms of meeting competing demands, finds itself unable to make adequate budgetary allocations.

But if Jamaicans are to be honest, they will accept that a large part of the problem appears to be cultural. Many who routinely keep their yards spic and span and consider themselves decent, law-abiding citizens think nothing of dropping a plastic bottle, 'scandal' bag or paper-based container right there on the street as they walk along. Motorists and their passengers often throw such stuff through the window, seemingly without a thought.

Unfortunately, again for cultural reasons, some in authority, including some police personnel, consider such infractions of the anti-litter law to be minor and unworthy of prosecution.

Also, a sort of misplaced politeness prevents many who know better from making offenders know that such behaviour is antisocial and downright nasty.

We are aware of ongoing 'clean up Jamaica' campaigns in the mass media and that it is routine for teachers and school leaders to emphasise cleanliness and proper garbage disposal. This newspaper believes that musical entertainers who command great influence among the young, politicians who continue to hold sway across large swathes of the population, and of course church leaders should be among those playing a very proactive role in getting the message across.

Most Jamaicans like to think of themselves as God-fearing people. It is time they get back to the basic understanding that “cleanliness is next to godliness”.

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