NSWMA head upbeat about plans for Riverton dump

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS Senior staff reporter saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, March 14, 2016

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HEAD of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Colonel Daniel Pryce is upbeat about the plans announced by the Government to effectively manage waste disposal at the problematic Riverton dump.

He said the plans are still at an early stage but that he is positive that the public will buy into this renewed thrust. "There are plans for extensive public education, and [changes to] the regulation that will come as part of that. We are really not there yet [but] I have an abiding faith in the Jamaican people that they will come on board," he told the
Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness on the weekend announced that there have been several expressions of interest from private entities to take over the dump, which has been like a nuisance to many Jamaicans, particularly in the Corporate Area and parts of St Catherine, for many years.

Holness signalled that the new Administration is serious about resolving the issues at the dump, promising that a comprehensive waste management policy would be put in place. He said the Government will divest the dump to qualified interests who will use technology to produce energy from waste, and that the intent is to move to "systematic" waste separation.

For many years the problems stemming from illicit fires and improper management of the dump have cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars. Just last year, fires which smouldered for the better part of two weeks blanketed most of the Corporate Area and sections of Portmore with deadly smoke, bringing business and everyday life activities to a standstill. The fires cost the country $235 million.

Amidst the call for answers and accountability from private sector interests and citizens whose health were directly affected by the smoke, the then Government said a number of actions were to be taken to ensure that the situation did not happen again. These included the separation of tyres – the main culprit in the prolonged blaze — and proper covering of the over 100-acre site.

In the wake of the 2015 fires Holness, the then opposition leader, called for the dump not only be divested, but relocated from where it sits in south-west St. Andrew.

Col Pryce said that, while the announced plans get underway, the agency has been working hard to deal with the garbage pile-up that has been evident across the city in recent months. "We have done night collection to deal with the backlog, which will happen from time to time. We are going to move mountains to ensure that we clear those backlogs. We don’t have enough trucks to do what we have to do," he said, noting that the 17 compactors announced some time ago are still to be acquired.

The executive director noted too that the agency will be working with private contractors on the way forward.

At a recent Public Administration and Appropriations Committee meeting in the House of Representatives, NSWMA representatives indicated that some contractors were cheating the system by not bringing in the correct tonnage of waste as agreed.

"We have repaired the scale at Riverton and that will give us a better measurement of the tonnage that is going to the disposal site, and we are having dialogue with the private contractors …so are not just going to shove anything down their throat," Pryce said, emphasising the need for those contractors to be on board.

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