Report finds 10% of garbage dumped in city waterways
Stabroek News
July 4, 2003

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A preliminary report into the disposal of solid waste has found that a lack of sanitary landfill sites has resulted in open dumping of garbage especially in the towns.

Georgetown, which is estimated to produce 250 tonnes of waste per day actually has a better system of waste disposal although the report does acknowledge that 25 tonnes of this waste is dumped into waterways everyday.

The report was compiled following a series of consultations and a workshop at the end of last year and is expected to be the focus of an ongoing workshop on solid waste. It suggested that there were 43,000 cases per year of diseases related to the issue of poor waste disposal.

Outlining the findings at the opening of the Pan Ameri-can Health Organisation (PAHO) sponsored two-day workshop on solid waste management at the George-town Club yesterday, Health and Environmental Advisor, Dr Paulo Teixeira said that it had been based on information correlated at an earlier forum.

According to Teixeira, the frequency with which garbage was collected countrywide varied from twice weekly in the city to once per month in the towns, with 21% of the waste in some towns being burnt. This in itself created added environmental problems.

He said the situation was made even more problematic as no formal or informal programmes existed for the recycling of solid waste especially in the hinterland regions.

However almost all towns have cleaning of streets and parks as well as garden maintenance as part of their duties, he added.

Teixeira also alluded to the cost of collecting solid waste which he said was in the region of US$34 per ton while the tariffs applied to fund this activity were only US$9 per ton.

The budgeted cost for this activity by municipalities was cited at US$50 per ton with Linden using 33% of its budget on waste management as opposed to Georgetown which uses 10% and New Amsterdam which expends 3.75% of resources.

Teixeira cited some of the strengths of the current solid waste policy which he said included the increasing interest of society in achieving national and local policies, projects and procedures for dealing with the issue.

He also highlighted the existence of occupational health and safety legislation, the increasing perception of the economic benefits of a sound solid waste management framework and increasing international co-operation and support in its management.

However there are several weaknesses including a lack of a national solid waste policy and limited administrative and operational capacity which is hampering movement on that front.

The current workshop, according to Teixeira, is expected to examine the available statistics, offer clarifications and provide additional information to properly evaluate the 2002 database.

Earlier, (PAHO/WHO) Resident Representative Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi in a brief presentation highlighted the importance of reliable information on the state of solid waste management in the Caribbean and the Americas as populations became more urban.

Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy promised to play his part both as an advocate and as a member of the Cabinet in ensuring a safe environment.

The ceremony was attended by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Harripersaud Nokta and also heard presentations from City Mayor, Hamilton Green and Dr Vibart Shury. (Oscar P. Clarke)