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NSWMA to return to core Regulatory role… Local Government Minister starts National Clean-Up Programme in St. James.

The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is to be restored to its original core mandate, which is to function as the island’s Regulator for waste collection service providers.

Speaking recently at a special Town Hall meeting at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre in St James, Local Government and Community Development Minister, Desmond McKenzie, said plans are in place to separate the NSWMA from the day-to-day operational responsibilities of garbage collection.

“I’ve already had discussions with the chairman, Dennis Chung, and I’ve said to him that is going to be one of the areas that the new board must look at.” The Minister also responded to questions regarding who therefore assume collection responsibilities for the country’s waste, saying that there are already independent entities available to take on the responsibilities for collection operations.

According to Mr. McKenzie, these entities include Western Parks and Markets (WPM) Waste Management Limited, SPM Waste Management Limited and MPM Waste Management among others.

“We don’t have to establish a new system. The system is there. What we are going to be doing is to take NSWMA out of the business of collecting garbage for the agency to regulate.”

Issues regarding the Agency’s limited resources, particularly concerning an inadequate fleet of garbage collection units, were also raise at the meeting. The Minister noted that the previous Administration tried to secure 17 trucks, but the effort had not materialized due to procurement technicalities. He added that these matters are being addressed and the trucks should be available in short order.

“In this year’s budget, there is an additional $250 million that has been provided to purchase 17 more trucks. That will still not give the Agency what is required but, at least, there will be more units in the system that will help to give you better service.”

In related news, Prime Minister Andrew Holness recently established a National Task Force led by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, to address cleanliness across the island, particularly in light of the serious threat of an outbreak of the Zika virus.

This inter-ministerial, multi-agency Task Force will implement the initiative through an island-wide National Clean-Up Programme across 14 parishes. Accordingly, the Minister and his team performed clean-up activities at Railway Lane as well as at the Anchovy Primary School and Bickersteth Primary and Infant School in St. James.