Some residents of the Denbigh Crescent community in May Pen, Clarendon are frustrated with the infrequent garbage collection, which is feared to have attracted swarms of mosquitoes. The government agency responsible to oversee the proper and timely garbage collection in Jamaica is the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA). The Clarendon Municipal Corporation (formerly parish council) spearheads the upkeep of the parish, through the development, management and maintenance of infrastructure and public facilities that benefit citizens. One of the corporation’s key roles is the “provision of local services such as Poor Relief, Public Cleansing, Public Health, Street Lighting, Social Water,” as documented by the corporation.
According to the NSWMA, “the authority provides solid waste management services in order to safeguard public health, while helping to create an environment that is healthy and aesthetically pleasing for both residents and visitors to enjoy.”
However, the people in the community of Denbigh Crescent are not pleased with the infrequent times their garbage is being collected. The NSWMA’s garbage collection service operates with an islandwide schedule. For example, “solid waste in the Corporate Area (Kingston & St. Andrew) is collected once weekly.” But solid waste collection is never once a week in the Denbigh Crescent community.
“About four to five feeding bag mi affi a use fi two months because of how long the garbage man dem take to come,” says community resident, Neville Richard (not his real name). “Sometimes mi affi burn di garbage when it pile up,” he added.
Burning is, however, an offence to the Country Fire Act, and everyone who sets fire to any trash on land is guilty unless the officer or sub-officer of the nearest police station and occupiers of adjoining lands are given notice seven days prior to the burning. But not only is the burning of garbage punishable by law, it contributes to air pollution due to the contaminant particles in the smoke that can cause the ill health of asthmatics and other people with respiratory illnesses.
“The last time the truck come a mid-December and before it come like in November,” says Doris McKenzie (not her real name), “the garbage just pile up and same time you see a whole heap a mosquito come,” she added.
Mosquitoes prefer to dwell in damp and dark places, which are also suitable conditions for breeding. Hence, Jamaicans are advised by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) to “cover trash containers to keep out rainwater and to get rid of all old tyres, tins, bottles, plastic containers, coconut shells and anything in which rainwater can settle,”, to prevent mosquito infestation and the mosquito borne viral infection, dengue. This infection “is a leading cause of serious illness and death” notes the World Health Organisation (WHO).
However, the NSWMA encourages Jamaicans to “properly bag, tie and place household waste in a container (drum, mesh receptacle or skip) for collection and waste must be stored in areas easily accessible to our sanitation workers.”