KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Riverton City landfill is a burning issue as the government moves ahead with plans to close the dump permanently.
It has left a rotten taste in the mouths of persons who make a living off the garbage.
A number of them spoke with OBSERVER ONLINE as our news team trekked into the St Andrew community on Friday.
Raymond Jackson, 43, an employee of the National Solid Waste Management Authority who operates a tractor at the site, said if the dump is closed, he is unsure how he will make ends meet.
“It ah guh affect me and everybody who depend on me very much,” Jackson, a father of six children, said.
Jackson, who has been working in the area for over 20 years, said he believes the issue is just merely “land grabbing” by the Government, and argued that people who are calling on the government to close landfills should reduce the amount of garbage they produce.
Meanwhile, 33-year-old Deon, a man who fishes in waters near the dump, was spotted riding across the bridge on his bicycle, his catch in hand. He said he believes people will “suffer” if the dump is closed.
“The youth dem ah guh suffer, feel it. You know why? Yah suh everybody come hunt dem daily bread. If it close right now, nuff ah the yute dem ah guh rob and thief,” he said.
David McKane, a worker employed to direct trucks entering the dump, is pleading with government to reconsider the plan to close the landfill.
“How the people are going to manage? How dem going get food?” the father of six said.
At a special joint sitting of the Senate and House of Representatives to mark Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of Independence, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that the government is moving ahead with plans to close the fire-prone Riverton City dump in St Andrew as well as other waste disposal sites across the island in a major overhaul of how the country’s solid waste is managed.
Holness told the House that his administration has undertaken a comprehensive review of the country’s public sanitation, garbage collection and waste disposal system which he acknowledged was a “perennial problem for Jamaica”.
He did acknowledge, however, that dialogue was necessary as the country’s dump sites provide a source of revenue for some people.
The Riverton facility has for many years been a thorn in the sides of many Corporate Area residents who live in close proximity to the dump site. Numerous fires over the years have sent black toxic smoke billowing across many communities, worsening respiratory problems for some people. The dump has been known to burn for more than a week on some occasions costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to extinguish the blaze.