Tuesday 4 August, 2020

Military/police protection for fire-plagued waste disposal sites

Desmond McKenzie

Desmond McKenzie

Members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have been deployed alongside private security guards to provide security at the island’s waste disposal sites.

The deployment of soldiers and the police was announced on Thursday by the Minister of Local Government, Desmond McKenzie. It comes in the wake of fires, believed to be set by arsonists, at three waste disposal sites within the space of two weeks.

It reportedly cost over $100 million to put out a fire at the Retirement waste disposal site in St James two weeks ago. The final cost to put out the latest fire at the Riverton facility in St Andrew, which was believed to have been set ablaze by arsonists on Sunday, is yet to be determined.

The fires usually wreak havoc on the environment and on people’s health, especially in communities which are in close proximity to the dump sites.

McKenzie made the announcement following a meeting with the board of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).

“The JCF and the JDF are on duty as we speak, and arrangements are already being made to enhance their physical presence at the disposal sites with private security personnel. Additionally, we will be procuring and deploying surveillance drones to constantly monitor all activities at the disposal sites,” a release quoted McKenzie as saying.

“The Government is serious when it says that the disposal sites, which are national assets, will be protected, and that the workers assigned to them will also be protected,” the minister added.

He said the security plan being rolled out at the sites is intended to address all identified issues in the short, medium and long-term.

“We are responding not only to current issues, but we are also allocating resources and using personnel and strategies over time to ensure that security breaches will be eliminated once and for all,” he indicated.

“This administration has strongly resolved that the plans to continue managing the disposal sites, and to prepare them to be turned over to private ownership and public regulation as part of the national waste to energy policy, will not be sabotaged by criminally-minded people bent on profiting from the discomfort of their fellow citizens,” McKenzie said.

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