Fines for illegal dumping set to soar to $40,000

The government also plans to implement surveillance measures to catch offenders in the act
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People who illegally dump garbage could soon face fines as high as EC$40,000.

Government yesterday announced plans to significantly increase penalties for offenders in a bid to combat the scourge of dumped waste.

This represents a substantial jump from the current maximum penalties of $3,000 for individuals, and $15,000 for corporations, under the Litter Control and Prevention Act of 2019.

The decision was made during the weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, prompted by recent flooding issues exacerbated by illegally dumped debris clogging drains and leaving unsightly aftermaths once waters recede.

“We want to start where we think it is best to begin, and that is to encourage pride in the way you treat your country,” the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Lionel Hurst told media yesterday.

“It cannot be that you find it convenient to merely discard rubbish that belongs down at Cooks, in the neighbourhood of some folks, because there might be some bush that would allow you to escape with making a shorter trip than Cooks would require you to.”

Hurst outlined the government’s strategy to apprehend perpetrators, stating, “What we have discovered is that the wrongdoers will choose the same place to dump garbage. They operate trucks. The trucks are supposed to dispose the garbage at Cooks. They take a shortcut and they dump them someplace. But they use the same dumping ground again and again.”

To combat this, the government plans to implement surveillance measures.

“We believe that with cameras and some other sensors, we can determine when those trucks are approaching that particular site, and also actually capture by film or by video, the illegal activity which is taking place, and that will be enough evidence in a court of law in Antigua and Barbuda for a conviction,” Hurst explained.

However, the new fine cannot be implemented immediately.

“The Attorney General is of the view that an amendment to the legislation will be required, that it cannot be done merely by publication. So they will go to the Parliament, I think sometime in early July,” Hurst noted.

The timing of the parliamentary session is crucial due to the close division in Parliament.

“As you know, the Parliament is almost evenly divided. There are nine seats on the government side and there are six and two on the opposition benches. When we are certain that all nine Parliamentarians are available for appearing in the Parliament, we will have a session and this will be one of the many laws that will be amended during the next sitting of the Parliament,” Hurst clarified.

The government believes that these stricter penalties, coupled with enhanced enforcement measures, will serve as effective deterrents.

Hurst emphasised, “If they know that heavy fines and the confiscation of their vehicle, or the denial of a driver’s licence and so on [can occur] – if those kinds of disincentives are put in place, we believe that we will have greater compliance.”

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