An illegal garbage dump, the size of several football fields, has been shut down, and authorities say this must never again be allowed to happen.
That expression of determination was the defining theme of a visit to the site at Pigotts yesterday, led by the Minister for Health, Wellness and the Environment, Molwyn Joseph.
The Minister was accompanied by several senior officials, including his permanent secretary, the chief health inspector and a police inspector.
It was noted by reporters present that several things about this illegal dumpsite either do not add up, or are simply shocking.
For one, the spot sits on at least eight acres of government land, with questions naturally being asked about how such blatant law-breaking could have been taking place on the premises of the country’s highest authority.
Second, while it is about 60 yards off the main road, the dump is little more than a stone’s throw from two major state installations: the V.C. Bird International Airport and, even closer, the Government Motor Pool.
The dumpsite has, it would appear, been hiding in plain sight; somehow managing to remain inconspicuous despite the materials deposited, including derelict vehicles and components such as the beds of trailer trucks. Further, and the evidence was on hand Tuesday bearing this out, giant bulldozers are being used to level and bury the waste.
Health Minister Molwyn Joseph said his investigations had revealed that the dump site has been in operation since 2002 – a whopping 16 years – and that its unplanned existence was responsible for much of the heavy flooding affecting Pigotts during periods of significant rainfall.
But, according to the Minister, this all ends now, as government will soon be enacting legislation to ensure that perpetrators can no longer shrug off the measly $200 fine for illegal dumping that currently obtains.
Under the coming Litter Control and Prevention Act, $5,000 will be the robust fine that violators will be slapped with.
Further, there will be an opportunity for whistleblowers to get paid for providing evidence that helps secure convictions, such as cell phone video recordings of the perpetrators in the act.
Stating that he wants every law-abiding person to function, in effect, as a litter warden, Minister Joseph suggested that for every $5,000 fine placed on illegal dumpers, 25 percent of this could be given as a reward to the person who led to them being brought to book – meaning an approved whistleblower could end up with more than $1,000 per convicted case.
Representatives of the Police, the Ministry of Lands, the Central Board of Health and the Environment Division were unanimous with Minister Joseph in their resolve to stamp out this environmental and public health menace.