Tue | Jul 17, 2018

JaRistotle’s Jottings | Litter-bugs and 'dither-bugs'

Published:Thursday | June 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Last week, during an on-radio discussion related to plastics and their harmful effects on the environment, one of the participants lamented on the seeming futility of clean-up efforts within Kingston Harbour vis-a-vis the continuous accumulation of plastic waste, especially after heavy rains.

I was also privy to a similar discussion concerning the inability of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) to increase the numbers of enforcement officers islandwide due to costs and the pitiful fines for littering enshrined in the current legislation, albeit that steps are being taken to address these issues.

In one instance, it seemed that the focus was on addressing the issue of pollution at the tail end, as in cleaning up the harbour, rather than tackling the problem at source, such source being the land pollution on the one hand and the continued production and distribution of the offending items on the other. In the other instance, the issue surrounded the lack of capacity to prosecute those responsible for the littering and pollution.

Talk about two tails wagging the dog.

That said, I must extend my appreciation to those who have championed the preservation of our environment over these many years, and to those who have been integral to the political debate and the government's decision to ban the distribution and use of certain plastic products. A healthy environment is a must-have. Thank you.

Unfortunately, we have a set of nasty, don't-care people (litter-bugs) in this country who unremittingly dispose of their waste wherever convenient, without regard for the environment or others. And then there are those who are empowered to act on such issues, but who are plagued by hesitancy for whatever reason; these are the 'dither-bugs'.

We are also plagued by state agencies which undertake excavation and like works in public spaces, but repeatedly fail to restore the areas to their original or better condition. Dem is part of the problem, too.

 

Ready solutions

 

Let's consider the fact that for every dollar spent on disaster mitigation and prevention, it will likely offset expenditures of as much as $8 on post-disaster recovery. Yes, 1:8, so it makes every sense to invest in mitigation and prevention proactivities.

Notwithstanding the logic of proactivity, there is substantial profit to be made from disaster reconstruction. Nuff big contract drop. Does such profiteering incentivise dithering to facilitate a baleful 'nyam a food' strategy?

At any rate, we have a host of people appearing before the courts for various misdemeanours and delinquencies. Instead of imposing fines which, if paid, end up in the black hole called the Consolidated Fund, or sending such offenders to prison, impose community service sentences. Let them go clean up the gullies, drains and like areas where garbage, and especially plastic waste, abounds.

We also have a plethora of prisoners who are supposed to be doing hard labour, but for whom the only thing hard is the dumplings they are served. We need to burst that bubble; hard labour should mean precisely that. Let them earn their keep.

Lastly, there is the economics of it all. We need to let the existing legislation work for us; the more enforcement officers we employ, the more likely they will pay for themselves and significantly reduce the littering and pollution. If they each serve two tickets per day which attract the minimal $2,000 fine they would already have earned their individual keep. And as far as opportunity costs go, they would be saving the country an eight fold expense in the event of any abnormal weather incident or other disaster. An ounce of prevention prevents a pound of cure.

So dither-bugs, stop finding problems for solutions to litter-bugs.Nuh dutty up Jamaica.

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