Executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Audley Gordon has rejected claims that it is to be blamed for the pile-up of garbage in several gullies across the Corporate Area.
Responding to a story published by the Sunday Observer last week where residents pointed to the garbage in a section of the Sandy Gully, in the Drumblair community off Waterloo Road in St Andrew, Gordon said the “Gully Disgrace” should not be blamed on the NSWMA.
Gordon also pointed out that the Government's $320-million Gully Intervention Programme, which was announced by Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke when he opened the 2020/2021 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives, was delayed because of the financial impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on Jamaica.
“The concern about the gullies across Jamaica, as it relates to garbage being dumped in them, is one that is fully shared by the NSWMA. We are very concerned, we have seen them and we have received the calls,” Gordon told the Observer on Friday.
“We have intercepted people and some people have been charged for dumping in the gullies. It is one of the cultural defects that the country faces where people dump wherever they think is convenient,” added Gordon.
He said the NSWMA, in its fight to deal with the problem of garbage in the gullies, went to the Ministry of Finance which accepted its proposal and committed the $320 million to institute a programme to clean the gullies and recruit people to be 'gully wardens'.
“They would be on the staff of the NSWMA and they would be trained, paid and be active like a sort of garbage police to ensure that the residents do not throw garbage in the gullies. To help them do their jobs they would be equipped with carts that they would use to move the garbage from the people to a point where we would access it,” said Gordon.
“A truck would be purchased specifically to deal with this project and there would be training and surveillance so everything would combine into a major intervention that would see significant improvement and would be a game changer.
“Unfortunately COVID-19 came and impacted the resources of the Government so that project has been deferred. So we have not received any money as yet. We have been promised that it will soon be dealt with. We do not know what soon means in this current context. We are in the throes of a pandemic and we appreciate that,” Gordon added.
He underscored that the gully intervention remains in the plans of the NSWMA and will be rolled out as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, we continue to speak with residents who live on the banks of gullies to help them understand the danger of dumping in the gullies,” Gordon said as he urged Jamaicans to containerise their garbage and put it at a point where the NSWMA can collect it.
Gordon was speaking with the Observer on Friday, minutes after the NSWMA won the award for corporate governance, policies, procedures and practices among public bodies.
“We were also runners-up in the most improved category for public bodies and we were also among the five entities for the overall top award. So this is a big day for us and we just have to continue to work here at the NSWMA to ensure that we keep improving,” said Gordon.