Removal of residents from Retirement dump still on, says NSWMA head
Audley Gordon, eexecutive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), addressing reporters in Trelawny recently

EXECUTIVE director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Audley Gordon is adamant that the plan to relocate people who have made the Retirement dump their home has not been shelved, despite a seeming lull in the process.

"The truth be told, it's not going at the pace that I would like but it is not dead. The lands are still available from the HAJ [Housing Agency of Jamaica] and the discussions are still ongoing but it is a concern — and I would not be going around the bush — it is a concern," Gordon told reporters during a stop in Trelawny with the NSWMA's 'Operation Sweep' team.

"We have tried to accommodate in a way that enhances the peace of the disposal site. We have concerns, we have made those concerns known, and a few years ago I took the decision that we should have the orderly removal of the people off the disposal site," added Gordon who had first announced the plan in 2018..

At that time Gordon said the NSWMA had held discussions with the HAJ in a bid to find a suitable location for the residents occupying the landfill. As part of that effort the Social Development Commission (SDC) was also brought on board to do assessment of the individuals. Back then it was estimated that 22 families were living on the property which serves as the main garbage disposal site in western Jamaica.

The people who live on the landfill are mainly 'pickers' who search the waste that is brought to the landfill looking for items, such as scrap metal, that they can use or sell.

"They are there in temporary arrangements where they stay to guard their investments because, for them, it's their investments. Rightly or wrongly, that's the reality of some of our Jamaican brothers and sisters," said Gordon.

But in recent months it seems more people have moved onto the landfill with commercial activities, including a night club and bar being operated.

Vending is not banned at the dump but Gordon has repeatedly argued that having people living and conducting commercial activities there is far from ideal.

"The ideal way, the best practice across the world, is not to have your landfill compromised by people who are not directly under your control or employ," said Gordon.

"Unfortunately there are people who make a living from our disposal sites across Jamaica; it's not just Retirement that you have people," he added.

The Retirement dump has been the scene of two fires in recent times and in both cases arson was suspected.

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