Riverton will forever burn
The recent fire at the Riverton solid waste disposal site was inevitable, and similar fires are likely at any of the other seven disposal sites around the island, regardless under which political administration the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) operates, or who heads that government agency for that matter.
This is because the necessary financial support has not been provided, from all accounts, for that agency to carry out its function of the collection and safe disposal of solid waste islandwide.
The respective administrations continue to ignore the fact that the NSWMA was set up to be a regulatory body of solid waste in Jamaica. They have dumped the operational responsibility for the collection and disposal of solid waste on it.
Let us accept that governments in democracies worldwide fail to provide efficient amenities, such as garbage collection services. Efficient operations, especially those dependent on mechanical services, cannot be bogged down with slow, bureaucratic processes or the under-funding that the public service in Jamaica has continued to face and yet harbour expectation of at least satisfactory service.
Planning is difficult, and the end result is execution of tasks in a reactive fashion. Because there has always been a shortfall in the budgetary requirements for the tasks given to the NSWMA, this organisation has incorrectly but understandably involved itself in commercial activity, charging fees for those services.
There has always been the boast of just how much revenue the agency was able to make, but what is never disclosed is the cost to the public purse for providing those services. In other words, in providing these commercial services, human and other resources are diverted from the primary function.
I also question just how fair it is to compete with private garbage collection companies and landscape companies using taxpayers' money. This certainly presents an unfair advantage and, despite the financial gymnastics associated with this policy, it is wrong and should be ended.
We must set the NSWMA as a regulatory agency and privatise garbage collection and disposal to include the disposal sites or we will have to put up with inefficiencies in solid waste services, not to mention the annual and costly fires.
Colonel Allan Douglas