MONTEGO BAY, St James - The St James Public Health Department is to embark on a massive rodent eradication programme next week, in an effort to rid the streets of the resort city of Montego Bay of rat infestation.
A total of $4milion has been identified to fund the initiative.
Of that amount, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) will provide $3 million, while the St James Parish Council will allocate the remaining $1 million.
Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie raised the issue of the city’s rodent infestation during last week’s launch of the National Clean-up Campaign in St James.
“The question of rat infestation in Montego Bay is a major concern,” McKenzie revealed during last week’s press briefing at the St James Parish Council to launch the campaign.
“...And I would like to advise that effective the second of May, some $3 million have been provided to deal with the question of rodent infestation across the parish,” he added.
The chief public health inspector at the St James Health Department, Lennox Wallace, told the Jamaica Observer West that the “indiscriminate disposal of waste” has resulted in the rodent infestation “of Sam Sharpe Square and the streets leading to Sam Sharpe Square right up to Fort Street right up to ‘Clock’, that general area of Barnett Street.”
And, in a bid to clamp down on business operators who seek to avoid paying for the disposal of their garbage, Wallace is calling for a partnership between his department and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) “to seek another way to approach the cost in solid waste management scientifically”.
“Because you can’t have a supermarket that have 1,700 to 2,000 customers passing through daily, but they tell you that they are generating four bags of garbage. There must be a scientific approach and we, as technical persons are willing to assist to ensure that they pay for what is collected,” Wallace argued.
“Garbage would have been collected at nights, (but) by the store opens in the mornings, you would have the place littered with garbage. It is not that it is generated by the public itself, but when the businesses are being opened they dispose of the garbage that they would have saved overnight and then that results in the untidiness in the parish.”
Meanwhile, McKenzie has issued a stern warning to business operators, that commercial waste must not be mixed with domestic waste, stressing that violators will be prosecuted.
“ I have given the executive director and the team at Solid Waste here to ensure that we monitor the action of the commercial activities and that the commercial garbage is not dumped into residential garbage, because it is the business operators’ responsibility to dispose of their garbage,” McKenzie argued.
“The law does not respect anybody, so anybody who operates a business — I don’t care where them come from — the law must take the necessary actions against persons who are caught violating the law.
“ While we want to encourage business and the more business there is, is the more employment that it generates, but we can’t facilitate it at any cost and we hope to engage the [Montego Bay] Chamber of Commerce to raise the concerns that we have and to ensure that those concerns are passed on to their members.”
In the meantime, Wallace revealed that an education programme will accompany next month’s eradication exercise.
Turn headline: ‘Indisciminate disposal of waste caused MoBay’s rat problem’
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