Written by: CHRIS PATTERSON
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, officially handed over 50 new trucks and 10 motorcycles to the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), today (November 30).
The vehicles, valued at approximately US$6.9 million, will improve garbage collection islandwide and bolster the operations and capabilities of the agency.
They were handed over during a ceremony at the National Heroes Park, in Kingston.
Of the 50, a total of 12 trucks will be at the Western Parks and Markets Waste Management Limited; 10 for Metropolitan Parks and Market Waste Management Limited; 10 to Southern Parks and Markets Waste Management Limited; 10 for North Eastern Parks and Markets Waste Management Limited, while the remaining eight will form part of a roving team, dubbed Strategically Working to Enforce and Enhance Public Cleansing Operations and Programmes (SWEEP COP).
Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Holness said the acquisition represents a major achievement in building the capacity of the NSWMA.
“With the arrival of these 50 trucks, I am advised that the total fleet now stands at 129 garbage trucks. The new units were manufactured in China and purchased from Tankweld Limited, the local dealers for the Shacman brand of garbage trucks in Jamaica. It should be noted that the delays in getting the units were not only because of the procurement process… but they were also delayed… because of the shutdowns and disruption in supply chains, and that the production schedule itself was interrupted,” he noted.
The Prime Minister pointed out that between 2016 and 2020, a total of 65 new garbage trucks were purchased.
He said the Government has made “calculated decisions” to effectively manage the affairs of the country and has positioned it for economic growth.
“So, today we are standing here as a result of those decisions, making the point that we came through a pandemic, we are recovering, the country has forgotten about the pandemic already, we are looking forward to a great future and we are able to continue the capital expenditure, not just in NSWMA but right across all sectors in Jamaica. This is a major achievement,” he said.
Mr. Holness argued that the acquisition of the trucks and the motorcycles will improve the increasing demand for garbage collection in communities islandwide.
“We have been very forthright with the public, and we have said that as a Government, we are not satisfied… . We have tried with the resources that we have to maximise our ability to respond to the growing garbage-collection issue,” he said.
The Prime Minister pointed to the need for a culture change to address littering and foster greater care for the environment.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, said the Government will continue to implement sustainable strategies that will ultimately improve the quality of life for Jamaicans.
“We are proud that capital expenditure is up significantly as a result of our economic recovery, of over 35 per cent… and it is through an increased capital expenditure budget that we can accommodate what we see here this morning,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that another 50 trucks are slated to arrive in the next fiscal year.
For his part, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said in addition to the trucks, technology will be introduced to garbage collection.
“In the new financial year, we are going to introduce technology in sweep cleaning. We are going to be bringing at least 10 of these sweep cleaning machines into the system as part of the new revolutionary approach to garbage collection and street sweeping in the country,” he said.
Mr. McKenzie added that the enforcement team has been given the requisite tools with the 10 motorcycles.
“The bikes will make them more efficient, to go around the country to monitor and to see where illegal dumping is taking place. They will be in a position to issue more tickets,” he said.
Chairman, NSWMA, Dennis Chung, expressed gratitude for the new units and for the additional 50 trucks that will arrive in the country next year. “Jamaica is grateful,” he said. He urged Jamaicans to dispose of their garbage properly.
The trucks were programmed for acquisition prior to the onset of COVID-19 in 2020. However, those plans were deferred, consequent on the economic fallout resulting from the pandemic, which saw government revenue inflows declining by $75 billion that year.
The NSWMA provides solid waste management services across the island in order to safeguard public health, while helping to create an environment that is healthy and aesthetically pleasing for residents and visitors to enjoy.