Wed | Aug 5, 2020

Editors' Forum | It’s difficult to legislate cleanliness – Gordon

Published:Wednesday | October 9, 2019 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis/Gleaner Writer

The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) said that despite numerous education campaigns, most Jamaicans refuse to dispose of their garbage properly.

Executive director of NSWMA, Audley Gordon, who was speaking at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum last week, said his agency had done a lot as it relates to public education. He said the NSWMA had taken the message to the public through town hall meetings, schools, visiting youth clubs and churches, but despite these efforts, very little has changed in terms of improper garbage disposal.

“Are we seeing the requisite buy-in that we would like? No, we are not happy with the returns on the investment that we are making in communications. We have to do more with communication, but at the same time, I (urge) people to take personal responsibility for their surroundings. It cannot be left to the NSWMA to keep running behind, it cannot be left to a government to say, police it, we have to take responsibility.

“Where I think we have fallen off as a people, we have not spent enough time holding the residents to account.”

Gordon added that the effects of improper garbage disposal are evident when the country experiences heavy rainfall, and garbage is seen floating around.

“When we talk about the waterways and people dumping in the waterways, we have seen that. We have seen all sort of stuff, whether it be old TV, old fridge, old mattress, you name it, coming down in gullies and drains whenever it rains. What it speaks to is the cultural challenge that is bigger than the NSWMA to fix.”

Gordon is pushing for the mobilisation of the collective energies of Jamaicans and a sustained public education campaign to bring about a shift in behaviour.

“It’s difficult to legislate cleanliness, it’s very difficult. If somebody decides to throw out a old stove, we can’t have an enforcement officer or police officer or soldier at every yard gate to stop that from happening. People have not made the nexus between them throwing garbage irresponsibly in a waterway to a flooding that could occur down the road from where they live to a life that could be taken,” said Gordon.