The Visit: Yes We Can Clean Up Kingston (apparently!)

President Barack Obama has inspired millions, not just in the USA but the world over. Mr. Obama symbolizes possibility, hope and change. President Obama and his family serve as the face for what family means, specifically, what Black Family means. The Obamas present an alternative to the reality of many and an inspiration for what can be.
Many of here in Jamaica watched with bated breath and crossed fingers as Americans voted for their first black president. His words during his 2009 inauguration inspired Americans, Africans and indeed citizens of the world, as he articulated a vision of a New America, one where everyone would have the same opportunities, of a world where America would co-exist with the other nations on the planet through diplomacy and a focus on mutual benefit rather than seeking to police and wield a big stick. He quoted George Washington: “Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.” This was a timely and relevant message to me personally at a very low point in my own life. I kept on moving. I kept hope alive in my heart.

Jamaica welcomes him with open arms. I am so happy that we seem able to clean house and put our best foot forward to welcome this historic, inspirational figure.  I hope with all my heart that we make a significant impression on Mr. Obama. I hope that he will remember his visit to Jamaica long after he leaves the White House.
It is our own government that I take issue with. Daily we plead with our government for good roads, for garbage collection, for street lights to be repaired, for even an appearance of order. Literally overnight, our government has transformed areas of our city Kingston into oases of clean, orderly, beauty. What we have been clamouring for is apparently not impossibility! What has happened is more than mere clean up to receive and honour distinguished and worthy guests. This is a slap in the face of us tax payers who are forced to exist and live in squalor. To be very clear: it’s the absolute absence of any semblance of reasonable governance ordinarily that makes the preparation for The Visit so offensive.

Let us take pictures of “Kingston Face Lifted” as evidence of what can be done, literally overnight, if government simply makes a decision.

can’t have a clean country without the state playing its role!!!

LETTER OF THE DAY PUBLISHED IN THE GLEANER SEPT 12 2014
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140912/letters/letters1.html

THE EDITOR, Sir: The garbage that is piling up, certainly around Kingston and St Andrew, is most certainly contributing to the heavy mosquito infestation we are currently experiencing and the spread of what is suspected to be the chikungunya virus.
Although not being reported by the authorities, and although not definitively confirmed by blood tests (these tests are done in Trinidad and the results are available after three weeks), there is strong anecdotal evidence of many persons coming down with chikungunya-like symptoms, including several of my own co-workers and their children.
No doubt, we as people have poor solid-waste management habits. We see people throwing plastic bottles out of car windows and people stopping along lonely suburban roads in the hills of St Andrew to dump full bags of garbage. Check out the roads and sidewalks the morning after any community dance: full of litter.
After a good shower of rain, our gullies become a raging torrent of muddy water with waves of garbage, the indisputable evidence of our careless and nasty solid-waste management practices and our wanton disregard for the environment.
Some say a public-education campaign is in order right now to change this nasty paradigm. There are calls for citizens to take personal responsibility as far as their own practices in this regard are concerned. But these efforts cannot and will not succeed without the active participation of the State.
What happens when garbage goes uncollected for more than a week? The householder has sorted and bagged and stocked his waste in receptacles for the NSWMA truck to pick up and dispose of. After a week, these receptacles become full and animals get at it. Rodents have a field day in it. It rains (hallelujah!) and water settles in the heaps that are forming. More days pass and no collection occurs. More waste is generated.
What are the options?
What is this well-informed citizen to do now? What is this responsible, not-inherently nasty taxpayer to do now? Carry the garbage in her car to where? To the dangerous Riverton City dump? What if she doesn’t drive? What then are our options in the face of uncollected garbage? Incur the expense to pay a private service, this after paying our taxes on our income and on our expenditure?
We need published garbage collection schedules for every community, that are actually adhered to. Where garbage collection cannot be done at least once per week, the NSWMA must go back to providing public skips where citizens can dispose of their waste. This is where public-education campaigns can be useful in terms of guiding the efficient, proper use of public dumping sites.
The citizens cannot do this alone. The State MUST prioritise good solid-waste management or face the inevitable outcomes of a nasty country and pay the price of rodent infestations and mosquito-borne diseases.
KELLY MCINTOSH
kkmac218@gmail.com

garbage collection and citizens associations

This was published in the Gleaner on Saturday May 24.  I shared it on Facebook, and a friend asked a question which I have not answered yet: “Do you have a citizens association in Coopers Hill?”
She set me thinking… The simple answer is “no”.  The logical response then ought to be: ” So start one, Kelly”.  I’m sure I could.  And yes, I have a raft of (valid) excuses: I have a full-time career, I am at school and I have school aged children who still need close supervision. But truth be told, I really don’t want to start a movement.  (I might be more inclined to join a movement.) But here’s the ugly truth: I don’t want to get too close to my neighbours. I don’t want them to get too close to me. I want to pay my taxes and my bills and I want the system to work: electricity and water on demand, regular garbage collection, a responsive police and fire service and I want my neighbours to keep their grass low. And sure, I know the reality: the system doesn’t work as it should, and perhaps my constant cries would be amplified if shouted through the collective voice of a citizens association. Selfish? Perhaps. OK.Yes: it is selfish.  My FB friend has thrown out a challenge which is bothering me…  We’ll see…

Coopers Hill Tired Of Trash Service

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130525/letters/letters6.html

Published: Saturday | May 25, 20130 Comments

NSWMA boss Jennifer Edwards (left) and Local Government Minister Noel Arscott (in truck) had better get a handle on the shoddy garbage collection in Coopers Hill. - File
NSWMA boss Jennifer Edwards (left) and Local Government Minister Noel Arscott (in truck) had better get a handle on the shoddy garbage collection in Coopers Hill. – File
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Up to the time of writing on May 19, it has been two weeks since garbage was collected in Coopers Hill, St Andrew. This is how it has been over the past couple of months.
I don’t need to elaborate on all the undesirable effects of uncollected solid waste: rodent and insect proliferation come readily to mind.
What is really happening? Even as we pay dramatically increased property taxes, what are we to expect where garbage collection is concerned? The Government’s absolute failure to get this one little thing done underscores our belief that it is merely paying lip service to preservation of the environment.
Inconvenient though it may be, citizens with vehicles can load up their solid waste and take it to a public skip for disposal. What of those unable to do so? Well, what you get are garbage-strewn sidewalks, roaming dogs pillaging the mess, ad hoc stinkness, unsightly dumping sites springing up on the gorgeous hillsides that God blessed us with, gullies clogged with bags of solid waste, and the constant burning of garbage by those suffering at the hands of an administration that refuses to collect garbage in a timely manner.
What are we to do? Jamaica of yesteryear was a place that held ‘girl pickney’ to high standards of hygiene and cleanliness. “You cyaan do dat! You is a gyal pickney!”
Separate standards
I certainly do not impose two separate standards of hygiene in my household, one for my son and one for my daughter. But if only out of respect and deference towards our ancestors, I am imploring Madam Prime Minister, the first female PM of Jamaica, to hold her local government minister, Noel Arscott, and head of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (ironically a woman too!) accountable in this regard.
Let it not be said that you presided over a nasty administration and a filthy country, Madam PM. Please treat garbage collection as a priority. Allocate the necessary resources and insist upon an efficient operation. 
Frustrated Property Tax Payer 

Coopers Hill, St Andrew 

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