Citizens are being warned to no longer take the Anti-Litter Act for granted as the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) ramps up a raft of new measures and regulations aimed at dramatically increasing the fines associated with it.
The caution has come from the authority’s legal director, Gail Mitchell, who pointed out that the change will finally put some “teeth into the laws” against illegal dumping and littering.
“One of the things that we are doing is that the NSWMA, at this point, has three pieces of legislation that we are trying to move through the Parliament, but I am going to focus on two,” she said.
“The NSWMA Disposal of Hazardous Waste, Electronic Waste Regulations, as well as the NSWMA Public Cleanliness Regulations, those two regulations are now what we are awaiting from the Office of the Parliamentary Council (OPC) to just give us the go-ahead to bolster the act,” Mitchell said as part of a panel of experts from the NSWMA who took part in a recent Gleaner Editors’ Forum.
The OPC is the law office of the Government that is charged with the preparation of draft legislation.
Mitchell noted that the NSWMA believes that the updated fines will help to curtail illegal dumping and make for individuals to think twice before littering.
“These new fines that will be coming will certainly serve as a deterrent. We are just waiting to finalise what we have on paper. We have already spoken to our parent ministry, our board has seen them and has made certain recommendations, and it has gone off to the ministry,” she said.
The updated fines being proposed, according to Mitchell, include those for the littering of public spaces and will further include waste generated at street dances or parties.
Mitchell stated that other new regulations being adopted will make sure that party promoters take responsibility for their waste at the end of a ‘session’.
She further explained that under the new regulations, party promoters will be required to fill out a permit from the NSWMA that will make it mandatory for them, as a legal requirement for hosting a party, to have an arrangement with the authority to remove the solid waste once the event comes to an end.
“We will be monitoring you after the fact, so you will need to take responsibility for whatever garbage you would have generated at your party and make provisions through the authority for pick-up and disposal,” said Mitchell.
She noted that once the proposed fines have been signed off on by the OPC, they will be laid before a parliamentary committee for scrutiny before they are given the green light as an act of law.
Currently, the NSWMA issues about 150 tickets on average per month to offenders under the Anti-Litter Act.
Audley Gordon, the authority’s executive director, said that the new regulations could result in an increase in the number of fines being handed out but noted that it would require additional manpower to make that workable.
“Let me caution that the improvement in fines must go hand in hand with boots on the ground. We have a limited amount of enforcement officers at the moment, so we need more boots on the ground, and I am speaking frankly in terms of enforcement, and we need the kind of fines that will act as a deterrent,” he said.
“It cannot be that in today’s world, in a country such as Jamaica, that we are asking a man to pay a $500 fine for littering; nobody will be afraid of that. In fact, it’s laughable. We can have the regulations, but without the capacity to enforce it, then it will stay on the paper on which it is written,” Gordon added.