'They got to move'

NSWMA boss vows to relocate residents living on the Retirement dump site

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Audley Gordon has vowed to have the more than 20 people living on the Retirement disposal site in St James, relocated.

“I am at the NSWMA two years now, and I have made it one of my must do in my three-year contract, that the people must be removed from the disposal site,” Gordon stated.

“And we have already gone into serious conversations at the level of the NSWMA and letters are being drafted as we speak, maybe just awaiting my signature.”

He added that he has also had discussions with the Housing Agency of Jamaica Limited (HAJ) with a view to finding suitable relocation for the residents occupying the dump “because we don't want to just push them off”.

“(But) they have to move, don't get me wrong, that's the end game, but we would like to see an orderly arrangement where they are relocated to somewhere else because we are human beings first, but they got to move, and that is not up for discussions. We can't accommodate them living on our disposal site,” Gordon stressed.

In recent days, there have been complaints of air pollution by several members of communities surrounding the disposal site, following a smoke nuisance which emanated from a major fire that raged at the facility.

Gordon disclosed that he is in possession of information that suggests that the fire at the dump was as a result of the work of arsonists.

“We have information that this is the work of arsonists, and it is a high probability that it is from persons residing on the disposal site, for whatever reason,” he told the Jamaica Observer West.

In a recent press release over the signature of president of The Granville Peace Justice and Resource Development Foundation, O Dave Allen, a call was made to the Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, to relocate the Retirement dump from its present location “because it poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of the residents of Granville and neighbouring communities”.

“Over the past several days the dump has been on fire due to spontaneous combustion, blanketing the neighbouring communities with unhealthy and noxious fumes including the recently commissioned Estuary Housing Scheme at Friendship,” said the release.

Addressing the opening ceremony for the inaugural Local Governance Conference Jamaica 2018 at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort and Spa in Rose Hall, St James on Tuesday, McKenzie, who congratulated the NSWMA and the Jamaica Fire Brigade for their efforts in bringing the fire under control, tendered an apology to residents who were affected by the smoke from the fire at the dump.

“I have to take this opportunity on behalf of the Government to express to the residents of Montego Bay, to say how sorry we are for what has taken place. The Government, through the NSWMA has taken the necessary steps, and the CEO is here, and I want to commend him and the staff, as well as the Jamaica Fire Brigade, for the work that they have undertaken, to bring the fire under control,” McKenzie expressed.

Before that, there were also expressions of regret from Gordon during an interview with the Observer West.

“Firstly, we are not happy when anything that gets into the atmosphere could affect the health of our people. When the air is polluted in any way, we take it personal. We are saying to them (public) we are doing everything we can do to not have these things happen, and if we do have a fire we move expeditiously to put it out as quickly as possible, and to get the smoke down,” Gordon said.

He also revealed that other measures are being looked at for the Retirement disposal site to effectively respond to any outbreak of fire there.

“One of them is to look how we can get a huge tank, or some water source that is available on site. In Riverton (disposal site, in Kingston), we have a fire suppression system, we want to look at something like that at Retirement also,” Gordon noted. “We are also going to stockpile marl, we want to have 300, 400 loads of marl on site. Our budget did not allow for it this year, but we are going to do it.”

He was in “100 per cent agreement” with Mayor of Montego Bay councillor Homer Davis, who has called for erecting a perimeter fence to secure the dump site.

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