Thu | Dec 12, 2019

Crime, rain stalling garbage pickups, says Chung

Published:Thursday | November 28, 2019 | 12:41 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
An elderly woman disposes of garbage from her household on Collie Smith Drive In Jones Town, Kingston. Some residents voiced sanitation concerns while others were irritated by people’s disregard for the environment.
An elderly woman disposes of garbage from her household on Collie Smith Drive In Jones Town, Kingston. Some residents voiced sanitation concerns while others were irritated by people’s disregard for the environment.

As the Christmas period draws closer and higher-than-normal volumes of garbage are expected to be generated, waste collection throughout Kingston and St Andrew may be compromised by crime, traffic, and other factors, says chairman of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Dennis Chung.

His admission comes after councillors attending a meeting of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation yesterday criticised the garbage agency for tardy pickups throughout the city.

Lee Clarke, councillor of the Whitehall division, raised concerns that garbage heaps litter numerous roadways. He implored the NSWMA to step up efforts to clean the city for Christmas.

And councillor for the Brandon Hill division, Gareth Walker, warned that the absence of regular pickups was providing a safe haven for mosquitoes, vectors of dengue fever that has caused 44 suspected and confirmed cases this year.

“Garbage and dengue are friends,” said Walker.

But in an interview last night with The Gleaner, Dennis Chung revealed a list of factors that have hamstrung operations, blaming rainfall, traffic, crime, and improper containerisation as the root of the problems.

He stated that the NSWMA was not responsible for clearing rubbish from roadways. Instead, their focus was on retrieving garbage from residential premises.

Hampered by heavy rains

“Heavy rains have caused havoc because it has made it difficult for trucks to manoeuvre the landfill. It’s dirt roads we are talking about. We have had significant challenges in terms of traffic. It has slowed us down considerably. We have trucks, but they just can’t move because of traffic and rain.”

He continued: “One of the things we did to address the issue is start night collection, but some of the sanitation workers don’t want to go out because of the crime situation. We have to be trying to get the police to escort some of the trucks and give coverage. We have had some crime flow in Riverton, in particular, and they don’t want to go down there,” Chung revealed.

Improperly containerised garbage causes massive delays during pickups, the NSWMA chairman told The Gleaner.

Chung said, too, that tipper trucks have been employed to complement the NSWMA fleet but pointed out that they carry smaller loads compared to traditional garbage trucks.

Despite the challenges, though, the chairman said the entity has managed to reduce its garbage backlog throughout Kingston and St Andrew from more than 400 truckloads to just over 100.

“We have been making some progress, but all the problems we have are within Kingston and St Andrew and St Catherine because those areas are affected by traffic, rain, and crime more than anything else.”

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com