Jamaicans need to stop being nasty

Monday, May 07, 2018

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This newspaper is in complete agreement with Mr Audley Gordon, executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), that “people must take personal responsibility for their space and stop dutty up Jamaica”.

Says Mr Gordon: “It cannot be that we are relying only on the staff of the NSWMA to keep Jamaica clean. For Jamaica to be clean everyone has to play a part; everybody has to hold up to their end of the bargain.”

Quite apart from aesthetics in a country dependent on tourism and which prides itself on its natural beauty, Jamaicans should know first-hand about the dangers of littering and the otherwise careless disposal of garbage.

They should know of the danger in the blocked drains and gullies which often lead to flooding of homes and entire communities.

And surely, Jamaicans won't easily forget the plague of mosquito-borne diseases, such as Dengue and C hik -V which are aided and abetted by garbage pile-up, since the dreaded Aedes aegypti mosquito will breed in even the smallest pool of water.

A sad fact, though, is that despite being taught to properly dispose of garbage since their earliest years in school, and despite the often imaginative promotions on radio and TV, many Jamaicans are habitual litter bugs. It has reached the stage of being a cultural flaw.

People who take great pride in keeping their homes and yards spotlessly clean appear to see nothing wrong in dropping or tossing stuff — ranging from sweetie wrappers, to plastic bottles and lunch boxes — anywhere in the public space.

Often it's done from moving vehicles, leaving roadsides all across Jamaica an unsightly mess.

Then there are the cynical business people who dump large mounds of solid waste in open lots, gullies and drains when no one is looking.

There is an anti-litter law which clearly doesn't pack as much teeth as it should and, clearly also, those with responsibility have been lax in terms of enforcement.

But obviously the long-term solution must be to change behaviour by constantly hammering home the message that, in their own self-interest, Jamaicans must stop being nasty and clean up their act.

That's why plain talk such as we have heard from Mr Gordon is important. Jamaicans need to be told, and accept, that littering and dumping don't just simply qualify as antisocial, but that such behaviour is plain nasty.

All too often people in leadership positions, including the political directorate, hesitate to tell people such plain truths, perhaps out of a desire to avoid offence.

Of course, there is also the other side of the story. Even if the mass of the population were well disciplined and orderly there would still be a serious solid waste problem, since garbage collection systems are woefully inadequate.

The seemingly chronic shortage of garbage trucks is bad enough. But why must people have to walk up and down in town centres and shopping plazas to find a garbage receptacle? And often when one is found it's full of holes, badly in need of repair — easy pickings for countless, hungry stray dogs.

There is much to be done by all concerned.




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