VIDEO: 'We can't do it alone,' says NSWMA headWednesday, May 19, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — An ugly, smelly, illegal dump just a few metres away from a properly installed garbage skip in Royal Flat, just east of here, yesterday triggered disgust, frustration and calls from the island's solid waste management agency for people to take responsibility.
“They dump everything and that's why I have to call on the people. They have to help us with this garbage situation, man. We alone can't do this,” National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Executive Director Audley Gordon told journalists.
“Unless the people take personal responsibility for the solid waste that they generate, we can't really do our job properly,” said Gordon, who was on a tour in response to reports of garbage woes in Manchester and resultant rat infestation.
Responding to the sight of garbage in a drainage ditch, staff from Southern Parks and Markets (SPM), a subsidiary of the NSWMA, quickly mobilised residents and distributed protective gloves and garbage bags to clean the area.
A dead goat was among the debris scattered at the site.
Gordon reiterated the resource constraints faced by the NSWMA and the turnaround time of solid waste collection.
“We can clean an area at nine o'clock and that same area could have garbage accumulating at 10 o'clock on the same day, because we can't tell people when to put out garbage,” he said.
“We don't have the resources to [clear garbage] every minute, so you will see garbage when you move around,” he added.
He criticised people who, he said, blame the NSWMA for garbage pile-up, and those responsible for creating what he described as “mischief”.
Said he:“There is a little mischief that people with phones make. They see a little garbage [and] they take it [and say] 'Look there'…”
Gordon argued that, “You must see garbage once there is civilisation.”
He insisted that problems in garbage collection and disposal should be viewed in the context of inadequate resources.
“Our record of resource challenges is well known. It is not unique to the NSWMA. You will hear just about every agency of Government talk about their resource challenges,” he added.
He reiterated the need for more garbage trucks to improve the turnaround time in solid waste management and said the NSWMA is doing its best.
“When we say we have an inadequate amount of reliable units [trucks], that's not a problem that Audley Gordon or the NSWMA has, that's a problem that the country faces,” he said.
“The NSWMA is doing the best possible with the resources available. What we do have is, in some areas, a level of unreasonableness in the discourse in that people expect the same high-quality service even in the pandemic where there are serious resource challenges.
“We deploy the resources that we have to ensure that we do the best job possible. Sometimes, unfortunately, it doesn't meet the expectation of all the residents…If I had a lot of reliable trucks I could tell you put your garbage out at that time, but when I have trucks in my fleet — half [being] old trucks — sometimes they have mechanical breakdown,” he added.
He assured residents of Manchester that the NSWMA will improve on its service and denounced as myths, claims of poor service from the agency.
“I want to dispel the myth that this is a simple job and the people are just 'wutliss' that's why they are not doing the job. That is not the case, and that's the impression you get when you listen to some of the reports,” he said.
“I assure the residents of Royal Flat and Manchester, every day we are out and about doing the best we can with what we have, and we will continue, because we know you deserve good service,” he added.
Operations manager at NSWMA Aretha McFarlene said the agency has partnered with Hardware & Lumber Limited to distribute 200 drums monthly to be used as containers in what is labelled the 'Drum A Di Gate' initiative, which is to increase containerisation in waste management for communities islandwide.