Deal with this incessant problem of dump fires
Smoke from Retirement dump covers the community of Retirement in St James on Tuesday morning.

FIRES at the nation's dumps, particularly Retirement in St James and Riverton which spans sections of St Andrew and St Catherine, have become all too common. In fact, the frequency of these fires have provided more evidence that the State is unable to properly manage and operate these sites.

Last week we saw another fire at Riverton and, of course, the authorities issued the standard statement that they "activated the usual protocols" after being alerted.

Mr Audley Gordon, the executive director of National Solid Waste Management Authority, told us that there is adequate soil, used as cover material, stockpiled at all dump sites that would help his workers and firefighters combat the Riverton blaze and return the dump "to normality in the shortest possible time".

We can't knock Mr Gordon for putting that contingency in place. He and his colleagues are obviously doing the best they can with the resources they have.

We take issue, though, with the Government — central and local — for failing to decisively deal with this problem of dump fires over many years.

The people serving in both these arms of government seem to be unaware of the fact that it is their responsibility to see to the comfort and well-being of citizens.

Like the proverbial ostrich, they keep their heads in the sand while people — some of whom live near these dumps and others residing even in communities further away — are forced to inhale smoke with potentially toxic particulate matter.

After so many years of the same thing happening over and over again we can come to no other conclusion than that the authorities have no care in the world for the human beings affected by the smoke from these fires. For, if they did care, they would have implemented preventative measures.

We have said it before in this space, but it is worth repeating: Perhaps it is that some of those individuals in authority are disciples of the pig Napoleon in George Orwell's allegorical novel Animal Farm, who, after conspiring with his fellow animals to take control of their owner's farm, changes the final rule in their 'Animalist' commandments from "All animals are equal" to "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others."

We have no word yet as to what caused the fire at Riverton last week. It may very well have been accidental. However, what is not in dispute is that the majority of fires at the dumps are set by individuals who are genetically connected to both political parties that use the dumps as troughs from which political pork is distributed in the form of work to transport dirt used to help put out the flames.

In October 2016 Prime Minister Andrew Holness appointed an enterprise team to identify a preferred waste management provider for the divestment of the Riverton dump. The nine-member team, chaired by Mr Lyttleton Shirley, was charged with managing the process of establishing a waste-to-energy system here and contracting the task of collecting and managing the country's solid waste.

We do not recall getting an update from this team. If we are wrong, we will humbly withdraw that comment.

What is clear, though, is that if we are serious about growth and development we cannot continue this way. The social, economic, and health dislocations caused by these fires will only set us back.

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