Those who flout our laws must not escape punishment
We note Prime Minister Andrew Holness’s contention at his ruling Jamaica Labour Party’s annual conference on Sunday that planned privatisation of garbage collection will lead to new investments, more efficiency, and ultimately a cleaner Jamaica.
The prime minister pointed to the example of the privatised Port of Kingston to underline his case.
The proof of the pudding is always in the eating. We wait to see.
Crucially, Mr Holness emphasised the need for individual responsibility in that drive for a cleaner Jamaica — urging the environmentally aware to lead the way in their communities.
He didn’t mention it, but the prime minister would have also been on point had he spoken to the clear need for enforcement of the country’s anti-litter laws.
Flooding of communities during the recent rains highlighted yet again gullies and drains blocked by the irresponsible and illegal disposal of solid waste, including old car parts, discarded refrigerators and other appliances.
As one responder to a news media interviewer pointed out, in many cases community residents are the agents of their own troubles, having thoughtlessly and needlessly blocked drains.
In this space and elsewhere, public education is often recommended as the way to counter such antisocial, self-defeating behaviour. Yet, we know that for generations, educators via the formal school curriculum, as well as informally, have urged their students to keep their environment clean and to avoid littering.
Time to time down the years — perhaps not often enough — ‘Keep Jamaica clean’ campaigns have also dominated State and commercial media.
Why hasn’t the message got across to a much greater extent than it has? We are left to wonder.
We suspect the aforementioned enforcement of anti-litter laws, with more people being punished for infringements, would help.
Inevitably, that means more pressure for the overworked, understaffed, under-resourced constabulary.
Anti-litter laws apart, police across the country have found themselves unable to carry through on promised zero-tolerance responses to such obvious infringements as driving a motorcycle without protective helmets.
And, in Sunday’s edition there was the distressing story of continuing flouting of the laws relating to the capture for sale of protected bird species, in this case indigenous parrots.
‘Breaking the law in plain sight’ read our headline — illustrating the reality that the brazen, cynical offenders are not hiding.
Back in January, this newspaper had published a similar article reportedly sparking hope among wildlife advocates that the police and the National Environment and Planning Agency would do more to enforce the law.
Apparently not a lot has changed. We are told that videos are being circulated on social media showing people advertising protected parrots for sale.
The situation cries out for the authorities to take it seriously and act against the perpetrators. In that respect, the offenders aren’t only those who capture and sell protected birds. Equally culpable are the so-called bird lovers who buy.
Central to an orderly society is that laws, once made — regardless of their nature — must be executed with offenders brought to book.
As our two political parties go in search of the power and the glory in local government elections come the new year, and a parliamentary poll beyond that, they should carry that thought with them.