Over 800 hauled before court for littering, dumping

Over 800 hauled before court for littering, dumping

Sunday, January 17, 2016

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Eight hundred and twelve persons landed in court during 2015 for failing to pay fines for breaches of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Act.

The fines were imposed for littering and failing to remove solid waste material as directed by the agency, as it continued to push to reduce littering and dumping by households, businesses and vendors across the island.

Figures released by the NSWMA has revealed that between October and December, bench warrants were issued for 203 individuals who had committed violations under the NSWMA Act, but failed to pay fines and shrugged off their court dates. A total of 344 tickets were issued for littering for the same period.

Community relations manager at the authority Shauna Guthrie said while some people take the tickets issued by compliance officers seriously, others take it lightly until they realise that they will be taken before the courts.

"Some persons believe that we are overzealous… [for example] for urinating in public the fine is $2,000, but some persons complain that it’s just "a little pee-pee". When they realise that it’s a court matter, that is when some wise up," she explained to the
Jamaica Observer.

Guthrie stressed that the tickets issued by the NSWMA are of the same significance as traffic tickets issued by the police, and those who breach are required to pay their fines within 21 days, which is the same time allocated for payment of traffic tickets. Litter tickets attract a fixed fine of $2,000.

Additionally, 858 notices for removal were issued, the majority of them in November.

Guthrie explained that this usually applies to those who leave solid waste material on the side of the street or in other public places.

She cited construction as one of the activities that contribute to this nuisance, whereby people leave large amounts of material such as marl and gravel on the side of the street for extended periods. Other such nuisance for which a person can be given a ticket include leaving household fixtures on the side of the street or in open public spaces.

Guthrie noted that the NSWMA uses its discretion in certain instances and does not rush to issue tickets if, for example, construction is still ongoing at a particular site. She said usually a warning is issued for proper measures to be put in place in order not to impede or cause harm to persons using the roadway or particular space, such as the visually impaired.

However, once a removal notice is issued, three to 10 days are given to clear the area and bring it back to its original state. If there is no compliance, a summons is served and the person must face a resident magistrate who will then lay down a fine not exceeding $100,000.

Under the NSWMA Act it is an offence to throw, drop or otherwise deposit and leave any litter in any public place. Litter is designated as "any refuse, rubbish, bottles, glass, debris, dirt, rubble, ballast, stones, noxious or contained substances or waste matter or any other matter likely to deface, make untidy, obstruct or cause a nuisance in a public place".

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