Jamaica Gleaner : Published:Wednesday | January 4, 2023 | 12:16 AM

The Government is putting legislative measures in place to clamp down on improper waste disposal across the country.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his 2023 New Year’s Day address to the nation, pointed out that the ultimate transformation of “our municipal waste system requires behaviour change on the part of the citizens. Litterers and polluters must pay”.

He said that legislation will be passed to increase the fines for illegal and improper disposal of municipal waste, and a bill will be tabled requiring citizens to separate their garbage.

In addition, he said that Cabinet has decided that a policy directive will be issued shortly to all government entities, including all schools and hospitals, requiring them to institute measures for the separation of their waste.

At the same time, the prime minister also announced that the Government is far advanced with the development of a business case for an Integrated Waste Management solution.

This will involve a new sanitary landfill to replace the Riverton city dump, divested municipal waste collection and management, and a waste-to-energy plant.

Holness said the solution will be implemented through a public-private partnership and should begin to manifest in this year, as part of efforts to begin implementing the “total transformation of municipal waste disposal and management”.

Contextually, the prime minister made the point that Jamaica’s relentless focus on economic recovery over the past two years, though successful, has unavoidably resulted in the diversion of resources and focus from other critical areas such as secondary road repairs and municipal waste collection.

“Rest assured, however, that your government is redoubling efforts in these areas,” the prime minister stated.

He said that the commissioning of 50 new garbage trucks in 2022 is already “making up for lost ground” and are improving garbage collection across the country.

In terms of secondary, community and rural road repairs, the prime minister told the nation that more focus will be given to these in the next financial year.

He, however, urged that Jamaicans must begin to consider “the spatial development of Jamaica and where and how we choose to live”.

“It is not economically possible, neither is it practical or desirable given climate change, population shifts and location of industrial clusters, that demands be placed on the national budget to build and maintain roads and other infrastructure which are not sustainable,” Holness said.

He also announced that later this year, the Government will confirm the new development order for the Corporate Area and announce plans to redevelop town centres in all parishes to rationalise settlement in Jamaica “in an orderly, sustainable, and resilient manner”.