One man arrested in connection with fire at Retirement dump
MONTEGO BAY, St James — The team at the Western Parks and Markets (WPM) came in for praise on Thursday after it was revealed that a man has been arrested in connection with one of the many fires at the Retirement dump.
Councillor Charles Sinclair (Jamaica Labour Party, Montego Bay North Western Division), who has long insisted that greater vigilance must be implemented at the facility, led the applause at Thursday’s meeting of the St James Municipal Corporation, after it was highlighted that the man was taken into custody in December of last year after there was an attempt to start a fire at the facility.
The team from WPM — the western Jamaica arm of he National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) — disclosed that there were three different incidents since September that they had to address.
“On November 26, December 11 and December 20, attempts were made to set the disposal site on fire. These fires lasted less than eight hours and were extinguished with our on-site equipment and assistance by the Jamaica Fire Brigade,” WPM’s Customer Relations Officer Sharnon Williams told the meeting.
“It was an act of arson and this matter was reported to the Jamaica Constabulary Force and an arrest was made,” Williams added.
She said there have been no other incidents since then, and the WPM team has been carrying out covering work at the facility.
In the meantime WPM’s Regional Manager Edward Muir took the opportunity to laud law enforcement officials for the role in apprehending the individual.
“I want to commend the police for their swift action where they arrested somebody who, we suspect, caused that arson,” said Muir before he chided people who seek to negatively impact the lives of residents in communities near the dump by seeking to cause issues at the landfill.
“While we are pleased that the person was arrested, we are deeply concerned that someone would willingly set the disposal site on fire,” Muir told the Jamaica Observer.
“The safety and security of the Retirement disposal site, as well as the surrounding communities, are of paramount importance to us. Therefore, we appreciate the swift action of the police in apprehending the individual responsible,” added Muir.
He said that WPM would be doing its part in assisting law enforcement with whatever investigations are done and whatever else is needed to ensure that is there is no recurrence.
“We will be doing regular covering to have less exposed areas of the facility that can be lit. We will be working with the police on more frequent visits and patrols and also increased vigilance from our fire wardens,” Muir said.
For Sinclair, however, the arrest of a suspect is a big step in seeking to address the issues of fire at the landfill that over the years has proven to be burden on individuals and the State.
“I am very happy that somebody was arrested, that means it’s a start. It shows that there is action that is going to be taken and there are consequences that can happen,” said Sinclair.
“I hope and I will pray that if there is sufficient evidence and the person is convicted that they suffer the consequences as harsh as it can be,” added Sinclair as he lauded the resolve of the waste management entity and the security forces.
“In saying we have a reasonable basis on which we could have arrested somebody, shows that between the NSWMA and the Jamaica Constabulary Force, they are not going to tolerate persons lighting the Retirement landfill.
“I have said the nuisance that it causes, I am saying it is bordering on some terrorist type of activity, so I am happy to hear that,” declared Sinclair.
He also lauded WPM for its ongoing clean-up work which, he said, has been quite noticeable in and around the city of Montego Bay.
“I don’t commend NSWMA easily bit when I see the length of improvement that has taken place instead of what we would normally see downtown Montego Bay, I have to say this to them and I ask them to keep it up,” said Sinclair.