KINGSTON, Jamaica – Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Audley Gordon, says that the public body needs “more boots on the ground” to effectively enforce current public health laws.
Gordon said that the NSWMA is currently in the process of trying to get additional resources from central government to triple the current enforcement unit.
“It has about 40 people, across the entire island. We want to move that to 100, but we need more boots on the ground. We just can’t keep a street 40 (enforcement officers) to do that kind of enforcement that is necessary,” the government solid waste spokesman told a press briefing at his Half-Way-Tree Road office, yesterday.
“We are currently in a little bit of shape. We just bought 10 new motorcycles and got people trained by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to ride those bikes and give us more mobility and quicker response timing, to deal with infractions whenever they are reported to us,” he argued.
But, Gordon conceded that the ten new bikes were a welcome addition to the team, in terms of the number of vehicles and the training of the drivers, who are all certified.
“Even before we got the bikes, we were able to provide a certain level of coverage across the island, and each month we would write 300 to 400 tickets. These tickets vary per offences and the overwhelming percent are for like urinating in public, and infractions like littering public town squares, etcetera.
“The fines though are very small, so they don’t deter anybody, and because it doesn’t deter anybody, you find that the average (number) of unpaid ticket can be as high as 500 per month. This means that if we had more boots on the ground, we probably would be doing 1000 tickets per month, which means that the offences are being committed.
“That’s the main point, people are littering at will. People are disregarding the basic civic duties that we have to keep our surroundings clean, that is where we think there is need for a culture shift,” Gordon said.
He added that, to get the culture shift NSWMA would have to see to it that people move to a better containerisation of their garbage.
“And we are promoting that. Which is why the partnership with Hardware and Lumber for the Drum a Di The Gate Initiative so significant, because Hardware and Lumber has committed to supply us with drums,” he noted.
Gordon said that the initiative will ensure that the NSWMA gets 200 drums per month, 2,400 per year, to share with the public for the next 12 months of the initiative, which is already operating in some communities encouraging residents to use them to store their garbage.
Gordon praised Hardware and Lumber for continuing the support for the initiative, and noted that the company has a “very good corporate image”.
“They expressed a willingness to do this as a duty to the environment and we want to commend them for this,” he said.