Published:Monday | November 8, 2021 | 12:06 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer
Audley Gordon, executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), is bemoaning the acute shortage of reliable trucks, which is negatively impacting the organisation’s capacity to be efficient in garbage collection islandwide.
With a fleet of approximately 104 trucks, of which only about 60 are considered to be reliable, Gordon says that an ideal situation for the NSWMA would be to have a fleet of between 150 and 180 garbage trucks.
In an interview with The Gleaner following last Thursday’s launch of a solid waste-reduction project in Hanover, Gordon said the NSWMA is now preparing to ‘board of survey’ all the units his agency now has in operation. A ‘board of survey’ is the process by which government assets are retired and written off by government auditors.
“Since 2016, we have got 63 new trucks, and those new trucks are what is holding up the system right now as we speak, because outside of those 63 that we got in the last five years, most of the trucks there are over 13 years old. They are very old, and they cannot continue any longer. It is no longer cost-effective for the taxpayers because we are spending too much for repairs, so we have decided to board of survey all of them,” he stated.
Gordon said that an entity like NSWMA requires a large number of trucks, and the fleet should be upgraded regularly to avoid ageing, breakdowns, and repair issues.
The NSWMA boss also pointed out that approval was given two years ago for 100 trucks to be bought for the agency. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the Government to halt the process.
Gordon is hopeful that for the 2022-2023 budget cycle, the approval to purchase the trucks will be revisited, so that the trucks will become available by November 2022.
“We are trying the best with what we have right now. We are working hard; we are not over-run by garbage, as it sounds sometimes in the media,” said Gordon. “You will see garbage because we generate garbage minutely, garbage is not an event that you just go and it’s over. You clean a place today, you will see garbage there tomorrow just the same.”
When asked to provide an assessment of the efficiency level of the NSWMA on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest, Gordon gave the body a six. He went on to plea for the understanding of the nation in regard to the situation with the agency.
HAMPERED BY THE WEATHER
“We just do not have the trucks to do the service that they (the citizens) would like, but we are coming, and they would note that we come; we might be late, but we come … and we try to come a little earlier sometimes when it’s possible. Sometimes we are hampered by the weather, sometimes by breakdowns of units, but the records we will show that we do show up,” said Gordon.
“We should be showing up quicker in many instances, and we accept that. We should be giving you a better scheduled, and we accept that. But we can’t do that unless we have (an) adequate amount of reliable units,” he said.
Gordon, nonetheless, gave a commitment that the NSWMA will continue to do all it can to keep Jamaica clean. He urged citizens to subscribe to the proper containerisation of garbage, as that helps the organisation to better fulfil its mandate.