LETTER OF THE DAY PUBLISHED IN THE GLEANER SEPT 12 2014
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.