PNP says Gov’t play­ing pol­i­tics with garbage

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ed­mond Camp­bell Se­nior Staff Reporter ed­mond.camp­bell@glean­erjm.com

LESS THAN two weeks be­fore Ja­maicans go to the polls to elect their lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the Op­po­si­tion Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party has gone on the of­fen­sive over garbage, ac­cus­ing the Gov­ern­ment of play­ing pol­i­tics with the is­sue.

At the same time, the agency with re­spon­si­bil­ity for col­lect­ing garbage, the Na­tional Solid Waste Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (NSWMA), is dis­miss­ing sug­ges­tions that it has col­luded with the Gov­ern­ment to use garbage col­lec­tion as a tool to in­flu­ence the up­com­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

Noel Arscott, op­po­si­tion spokesman on lo­cal gov­ern­ment, told jour­nal­ists yes­ter­day that the administration was be­ing “tardy and care­less” in its ap­proach to pub­lic cleans­ing, which has given rise to grow­ing health con­cerns.

He said the sit­u­a­tion is crit­i­cal in Manch­ester, Claren­don, and St El­iz­a­beth, where garbage has not been col­lected for about five weeks.

“The dan­ger this pile-up is fa­cil­i­tat­ing is the breed­ing of rats and the in­crease in flies and is now pre­sent­ing a pub­lic health haz­ard to the ci­ti­zens in the ar­eas af­fected,” Arscott ar­gued, adding that a sharp in­crease in the rat pop­u­la­tion could ex­pose Ja­maicans to lep­tospiro­sis.

WHAT OF NEW TRUCKS?

He wants to know what the cur­rent administration has done with pro­vi­sions made in the 2015-2016 Bud­get for pur­chas­ing 16 new garbage trucks. “Those trucks should have been in Ja­maica from as early as April this year. We have heard noth­ing from the Gov­ern­ment about these new trucks.”

Arscott has also chided the administration for what he de­scribed as po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence in the process to award con­tracts for street clean­ing and garbage col­lec­tion.

“Ten­ders were put out and two days be­fore the clos­ing date, an ad­vi­sory went out chang­ing the scope. It gives one the im­pres­sion that they are try­ing to change the scope to fit their pre­ferred con­trac­tors,” Arscott rea­soned.

He called on the Of­fice of the Con­trac­tor Gen­eral to probe the is­sue.

How­ever, chair­man of the NSWMA, Den­nis Chung, yes­ter­day dis­missed as “un­founded and un­for­tu­nate” as­ser­tions that the agency has teamed up with the Gov­ern­ment to play pol­i­tics with garbage col­lec­tion.

“We as­sure the pub­lic that the staff of the NSWMA are do­ing their very best to col­lect the garbage in what has proven to be very dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. The board of direc­tors can cat­e­gor­i­cally say that from a pol­icy per­spec­tive, there has been no politi­ci­sa­tion of garbage col­lec­tion, and if there is any ev­i­dence of this hap­pen­ing at an op­er­a­tional level, we in­vite any­one with such in­for­ma­tion to send it, even anony­mously, to the board,” Chung de­clared.

On the ac­qui­si­tion of ad­di­tional garbage trucks, the NSWMA chair­man said the agency has not re­ceived the trucks or­dered in 2015, ow­ing to “bu­reau­cratic is­sues”. How­ever he said the trucks were ex­pected to ar­rive in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

“Once the trucks ar­rive, there will be sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in the col­lec­tions,” he added.

PA­TRICK PLANTER/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

A pile of garbage seen on Luke Lane in down­town Kingston yes­ter­day.

ARSCOTT

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