The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is reporting significant improvements in its waste collection and accountability activities, since the current Board of Directors assumed office six months ago.
In noting that the tenure of the Board commenced shortly after the extensive fires at the Riverton Disposal Site in St. Andrew in March this year, Board Chairman Dennis Chung says the NSWMA has been trying to dramatically improve service delivery and corporate governance, with a view to recovering public confidence.
With regard to service delivery, Mr. Chung noted that improvements are not being limited to the Riverton Site: “The Board has visited most of the other landfills to see the condition they are in. The next one we will focus on after Riverton is Retirement in Montego Bay, as this stores the next highest amount of waste after Riverton and is in need of some attention. Doctors Wood is being deactivated and plans are afoot to install a transfer station instead. All other Disposal Sites will be given attention thereafter. Enforcement activities have been ramped up and the enforcement team is focusing on regularizing commercial disposal, and also will be focusing on enforcement against individuals. We have already been ticketing persons for offences such as urinating in public and illegally storing garbage.”
The NSWMA Chairman also stated that the Agency’s minimum standard for garbage collection will be once per week. “We recognize this is still a sore point but our abilities are limited now, as compactors are needed. We have been working on this area and we have seen a 40% fall in customer complaints even though it is still an issue.” Mr. Chung also confirmed that the 17 compactor trucks to be acquired by the Agency at a cost of 1.9 million Euro should be available for use by May of 2016.
On the subject of financial accountability as a part of Corporate Governance, the NSWMA Chairman revealed that the Agency is implementing appropriate accounting controls and processes to ensure accurate and consistent information collection and recording, along with asset protection. “We also have consultants assisting with the process and also working on getting the back data up to date, so that we can quickly produce the audited financials outstanding. There are a few statements for NSWMA and the Regions that were being worked on by the previous board that have been approved. For me this is probably the area of greatest weakness right now within the Organization, but I am satisfied that with the changes now being effected, this will change in due time for the better.”
In his remarks, Minister of Local Government and Community Development Noel Arscott noted that approximately J$69 million has been spent to effect the changes that were promised to improve efficiency at the Riverton Disposal Site. The changes include:
- The covering of the Riverton Disposal Site.
- The re-establishment of tipping cells and roads to access these cells.
- The installation of fire suppression equipment.
- The construction of the Riverton access road using concrete.
- The removal of the stock of disused tyres from the Disposal Site.
- The insertion of pipes to extract methane gas from the Site.
- The separation of waste by type (organic, plastic, electronic) and
- The expansion of the fleet of waste collection trucks.
The Minister announced that many of these targets have been met, with others at advanced stages of implementation. “With regard to the removal of old tyres from the Site, which constitute the main feeder of fires and thick smoke, land has been identified and the Authority is awaiting approval from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA). Once this is received, the tyres will be relocated to that site, which has already been prepared for use. The NSWMA has also entered into a Partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to remove 5,000 tyres, which will be used to construct artificial reefs. Additionally, a Pilot tyre-collection programme is also being implemented in the Portmore Municipality.”
The Minister also disclosed the Weigh Scale facility at the Disposal Site will be restored, to facilitate accurate measurement of the waste being taken there. “Various anomalies exist in the carrying capacity of the units that serve the system, with the effect that less than agreed volumes of garbage are being delivered to the Disposal Sites. Only the establishment of a proper weigh-scale facility will eliminate these problems. This is to be fully operational by the end of January 2016, and is aimed at ensuring that fees are based on the total volume of garbage delivered to the site, instead of individual truck-loads. The information will then be used to calculate payments to collection contractors.”
On the subject of effective security for the 120-acre site, Mr. Arscott announced that since a security review conducted in the wake of the March fires, new fencing has been installed around the perimeter of the Scale House and the Site’s equipment storage yard, and fences around the administrative building have been repaired. “This should assist in the restriction of access by unauthorized individuals and animals, and also protect staff and equipment. Just as importantly, the 120-acre Disposal Site is now monitored by regular patrols of military and police personnel. It is intended that the presence of these joint teams will become permanent by February of next year, contingent on the construction of a barracks to house assigned members.”