The Mon Repos/La Reconnaissance Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) remains resolute in its drive to address the continued wanton dumping in the area, despite the challenges faced with uncooperative residents and market vendors.
Heaps of trash, drains filled with plastic and heavy vegetation and garbage-littered canals, particularly in the vicinity of the market, were observed during a visit to the East Coast Demerara community last weekend.
Stabroek News spoke with several vendors who split the blame for the littering on neglect by the NDC and the indiscriminate dumping by residents and other vendors.
One man related that the situation at the market has been the same since he started vending there last March. He said that though he could not say for sure who was responsible, he had not seen any garbage collection done in months.
“I don’t know who does be dumping the garbage about the place like this, but it’s sickening and someone needs to look after it,” the man said.
“To me, they does just push it in the drain and leave it; they don’t pick it up and everyday it increases,” one woman added. Another vendor related that while the current situation was somewhat of an improvement to what obtained before, more should be done to address the issue as residents and some vendors continue to dump their garbage at the sides of the road and in the waterways.
NDC Chairman Ayube Mohammed said while the NDC has been able to improve the garbage collection system over the past months, both on its own and with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is still faced with challenges.
This, he said, included the disregard continuously shown by some residents and vendors and their continuous improper disposal of garbage.
“We have been clearing those roadside heaps and we have been doing that sometimes in conjunction with the EPA and the Ministry of Health and other times we do it by ourselves. We provide the machinery whenever we are working with them and on a regular basis. But it don’t matter what you do, residents still go back and dump on these parapets,” he said.
Commenting on the situation at the Mon Repos Market, the Chairman explained that the challenge of keeping the area devoid of garbage comes in the form of uncooperative vendors. “It is the very same vendors who are the ones that mess up the place like that. We have asked them time and again to provide receptacles for their garbage so it would be easier because all we would have to do is pick up the receptacles and sweep the tarmac but now we have to pick up stuff, clean and wash the tarmac,” Mohammed explained.
“We have only been here 8 months and we are trying our best to get things under control; we have another garbage truck coming in close to the end of this month that will come on stream to help us a great deal in controlling the garbage at the market,” he added.
In the interim, there is a five-member cleaning crew that has been contracted to clean the building which houses several other stalls. This, the Chairman said, is complemented by the contracted services of Cevons Waste Management for collection of garbage on a daily basis.
A system was also established for the benefit of residents in the community, however, according to Mohammed, some residents choose not to make use of the service offered and continue to dump indiscriminately.
“What you find happening is that the residents from around the area would see the tractor or garbage truck passing their home and they wouldn’t bring out their garbage. But five minutes after, you will see them trailing with a bucket to the street end and throwing it in the trench,” he said.
In light of this kind of behaviour, Mohamed said, the NDC has partnered with the EPA to sensitise the public and plans to go as far as enforcing heftier fines as a possible means of addressing the wanton dumping.
“The fines that exist right now are very small and the people just don’t care; the Public Health people would send those notices but they fine is so small that it’s negligible. Now, we are preparing to start sending out notices to those guilty of such behaviour and if the situation does not change, the EPA will go ahead and charge them,” the chairman explained.
Mohammed added that the situation has been compounded as a result of the recent heavy rains that would have caused excessive vegetation growth, which, coupled with garbage, contributed to blocked drains.
“…In less than half day rain, that trench fills right up and all the garbage that would have accumulated on the parapets, it comes out the front. The heavy vegetation is as a result of the heavy rains too but we have a 12-man crew tasked with clearing the drains,” he explained.
Reflecting on the progress made over the past eight months in office, Mohammed was pleased to report that the garbage situation was improved from what it was before, when there were non-functioning garbage trucks and unpaid workers, all of which contributed to the absence of a garbage collection system.
Going forward, Mohammed said the NDC has plans to crack down on illegal vending on the market tarmac as well as making efforts to have established bylaws for the market as an additional means to deal with vendors who continue to litter. “It is our hope that we see a great improvement when these things are put in place,” he said.