Clarendon councillors argue over garbage collection
Uncollected garbage is seen outside a receptacle near Bargain Village Mall in May Pen on Monday.
NSWMA manager says waste dumped in several places after collection made

MAY PEN, Clarendon — Forced to take pictures to prove her team is working so she could hold on to her job, National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Zonal Manager Opal Samuels has hit back at constant criticism from the Clarendon Municipal Corporation.

The problem, she said at last Thursday's monthly meeting, was an unprecedented amount of rubbish being discarded by people who simply do not care.

The terse exchange began when councillor for the Palmers Cross Division Carlene Benjamin (Jamaica Labour Party) took issue with Samuels' assertion that, even though there were still severe challenges with communal receptacles, “the collection of solid waste over the Christmas period was satisfactory throughout the zone”. In giving her report, she said by adding additional trucks her team had managed to make a dent in the backlog of garbage.

Councillor Benjamin did not agree.

“During the Christmas season, this division was probably the nastiest division. When you come to Sandy Bay from Free Town right at the entrance of Rosewell Road, along that plot has been turned into an illegal dump. I am so ashamed to pass there in the mornings, but I don't have nowhere else to drive,” said the locally elected official.

“It is a disgrace to travel through Rosewell. The garbage leading up to Kennedy Grove has been overturned into the road. The place is nasty, and nasty is a good word [to describe it]. So I don't know where solid waste cleaning up for December was 'satisfactory'. Because I can tell you that is not so in the Palmers Cross Division, and I can go on and on. Suh dem fi stop talk bout 'satisfactory' because to me it is unsatisfactory in the Palmers Cross Division,” she ranted.

In defending the report, Samuels insisted that garbage in May Pen proper and its environs — which includes Palmers Cross, Nineteen Mile, and Free Town — was, in fact, collected on December 27 last year.

“We keep hearing that the areas are not being collected a week going into two weeks after it was collected. The garbage is unlike any we have seen before. The May Pen town was cleaned right, left, and centre right through on Christmas Day. And I have pictures to show because that's what we are doing now because we get complaints after we clean the areas. We cleaned an area and three days after we got some pictures that it was not cleaned. I had to show my pictures because I would have lost my job if I didn't have proof. The areas are being cleaned. I don't know where the garbage is coming from, I have absolutely no idea. It seems residents just take out their garbage and just throw it anywhere,” she retorted.

Municipal council chairman, Winston Maragh, who said his attention was called to uncollected garbage in the Kellits Division, also sought answers from the agency's representative.

“I got a call from the principal of the McNie Primary School to say that the garbage has not been collected for over two months. A young lady also called me from Sevens Ground to say that her garbage has not been collected for two months either. I have also gotten calls from other persons in and around the May Pen area that their Christmas garbage is yet to be collected either. So I don't know what you call satisfactory,” he told the NSWMA representative.

However, Samuels, who maintained that all schools had been cleaned before reopening in January, argued that the NSWMA was not to be blamed.

“The residents don't care. It is so sad that we as citizens think it is one or two entities that are responsible for keeping the place clean, the onus is on all of us,” she said, adding that there are four working units in Clarendon and only two are Government-owned.

And, even as Samuels defended the work being done by the NSWMA, councillor for the Aenon Town Division Delroy Dawson (PNP) used the opportunity to reiterate his call for the illegal dump at the entrance of Bog Hole to be cleaned.

“I was promised that it would be cleaned some months now, but still nothing is being done about it. I am asking when this area will be cleaned. It's very unsightly and distasteful. The citizens are on our backs, so we have to be on yours” he said.

Samuels apologised for the delay and vowed to have the matter rectified as soon as possible using the limited resources they have.

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