NSWMA head warns of greater fines for littering
A tough-talking Audley Gordon, the executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), has warned the island's litterbugs that stiffer fines are forthcoming as part of Government's push to keep the country clean.
He declared that the fines will increase drastically, similar to the sharp increases that characterised the recently amended Road Traffic Act.
"Before long we will see far stiffer penalties for people who breach the law, for people who believe that dumping is something 'normal'. We will get to them and will be licking them hard in their pockets," Gordon said. He was speaking with THE STAR following a handing over of two manual push sweeper machines. Through the Fixed Penalty Notice, the NSWMA has the power to ticket and charge offenders with fines as high as $10,000.
The offences range from littering or disposing of garbage in any public space to employing persons to deface public property or public space. Gordon shared that the NSWMA has in its employ 40 enforcement officers islandwide. On a monthly average, the entity issues between 400 and 500 tickets, but Gordon argued that offenders were not deterred by the small fines.
"I have seen some of the [new] fines. I am not at liberty to discuss them now, but I have said it time and time again. If we are going to break the back of this culture where people just dutty up Jamaica, it is going to take a combination of things. Yes, we have to have public education [and] awareness. But importantly, too, you have to have in place an enforcement regime that can enforce the law, and a fining structure that can be a deterrent. People need to know, if you do the wrong thing, you will pay dearly," he said.
Gordon also lamented the difficulty of the job, which he said is made worse with the limited resources at his disposal.
"We just got 10 bikes and [we] put some of our enforcers on them. Already, we are seeing where they are beginning to make a difference. Already, the number of tickets are increasing, but we need far more. We would say a minimum of another 100 enforcers. Were we to get that, we should be able to spread out our vigilance and reach, and make a difference with improved numbers in our enforcement unit," he said.
Gordon commended the management at Delta Supply Limited for donating the sweeper machines, which were built to manoeuvre tough surfaces and help make the work of street sweepers easier. Gordon also issued a rallying cry for Jamaicans to get on board and play their part in beautifying the island.
"We believe that the average Jamaican wants a clean country. There is a lot of us who want to play their part and we are seeing that every day. People are containerising their garbage; people building receptacles outside their gates to make sure that the garbage is kept together. We have seen how annoyed people get when the dog goes and scatter their garbage. So we know that people want to do the right thing in the main. But there is a good percentage of people, for me use is too high, who could not care less. We must isolate them, and we are going to do it with improved fines and enforcement," he said.