PNP urges Gov’t to address garbage pile-up across country

BY TANESHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

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THE Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is calling on the Government to urgently address what it describes as the significant piling-up of gabage in a number of parishes.


"The case is extremely critical in central Jamaica, in the parishes of Manchester, Clarendon and St Elizabeth, where garbage has not been collected for as long as five weeks," said opposition spokesman on local government, Noel Arscott, whose party is in campaign mode as it prepares for the November 28 local government polls.


Addressing a press briefing yesterday at the party’s Old Hope Road, St Andrew, headquarters, Arscott said the pile-up is faciliting the breeding of rats and flies, and may have also contributed to the the recent outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease among children.


He also warned of a possible outbreak of leptospirosis, which Spanish Town Mayor Norman Scott alleged has already claimed one life in St Catherine.


"We are saying that the Government is tardy, careless and is playing politics with the health of Jamaican people," Arscott said.


He further accused the Government of attempting to pass off the responsibility of garbage collection to the Municipal Corporation.


According to Arscott, the previous PNP Administration had made provisions in the 2015/16 budget to purchase 17 brand-new trucks to supplement the fleet and was examining the possibility of retrofitting trucks locally, in partnership with Toyota Jamaica, to see how best to use the compactors.


He said that since the PNP was booted from office in February, he has not heard anything about the trucks.


"We want to know where those trucks are. These trucks should have been in Jamaica from as early as April this year," he said.


"We are now calling on Government to take this matter seriously because the health of our children, elderly, and the citizens is at risk and bearing in mind that we are now approaching the Christmas season where there will be a significant amount of garbage that will be generated. So, if we don’t get our acts together the country will be swimming in a sea of garbage," Arscot said.


For his part, Opposition spokesman on health, Horace Dalley, complained about the garbage situation in Northern and Western Clarendon.


"...It is the first time that we have had, in recent history, such a pile up of garbage," Dalley complained, disclosing that he was unsure of the whereabouts of the truck that is assigned to Western Clarendon.


He said he plans to take up the issue with the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).


In the meantime, the NSWMA has refuted suggestions by the PNP that the agency is being used by the Government to politicise the issue of garbage collection


"We assure the public that the staff of the NSWMA are doing their very best to collect the garbage in what has proven to be very difficult circumstances. The board of directors can categorically say that, from a policy perspective, there has been no politicisation of garbage collection and if there is any evidence of this happening at an operational level, we invite anyone with such information to send it, even anonymously to the board," the agency said in a press release issued yesterday.


With regard to the 17 trucks that were budgeted for by the PNP, the NSWMA said that the units were delayed because of "bureaucratic issues", but are expected to arrive by February 2017.


"Once the trucks arrive, there will be significant improvement in the collection," the agency added.


The agency aslso used the opportunity to remind both the Government and Opposition that the challenges it now faces are as a result of years of the neglect and inadequate funding.


"The required budget for an adequate (twice per week) garbage collection nationally is approximately $4.5 to $5.0 billion, and the authority’s approved budget has consistently been significantly less; the last budget approval was for $2.8 billion (a little over 50 per cent of what is needed when the requirement was close to $5 billion)," the NSWMA noted.

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