By Elesha George
The Solid Waste Management Authority (SWMA) is investigating an incident of illegal dumping in the Sandhaven area.
The authority is trying to identify the owner of a vehicle which was seen at the site of an illegal dumping ground on Sunday. The incident which was captured on video showed two men discarding items on the main road close to Fort James Beach.
SWMA’s General Manager Daryl Spencer said the organisation received six reports of the same incident and the driver who filmed the activity was able to provide the authority with the licence plate number of the vehicle.
The Litter Control and Prevention Coordinator has already taken a photo documentary of the dumping site which the authority will use as further evidence of the incident.
The area is a very familiar dumping site, according to Spencer, who said just last Friday that workers were carrying out an assessment of the extent of the dumping in that area.
In accordance with the Litter Act of 2019, the individuals can be charged up to $3,000 if they acted of their personal volition or up to $15,000 if the vehicle is registered to a business place. The perpetrators can also be made to clear the dumping site as part of the penalty.
The expectation is that the violators will go before the court for the offence once the investigation is complete.
This, however, is not an isolated incident and the increased fines for offenders under the amended Litter Act seems to do little to deter people from discarding their waste – in this case – just inches away from the main traffic route.
Spencer believes that the ongoing problem is due to a culture that may need to be addressed on a psychological and national level.
For over 30 years, Cooks Sanitary Landfill has been the legal dumping ground for waste around the country, but before that each community had its own dumping site. The general manager believes that this may be part of what is still driving the continuous dumping.
Spencer has acknowledged the need for a mass education campaign on littering – a continuation of the build-up to the amendment to the Litter Act in 2019.
“Maybe we just need to go a little bit more and we also have to put the onus on each and every resident because there must be some civic responsibility on the part of every person that enjoys Antigua and Barbuda that we should, we must, keep our environment clean,” he stated.
He made note that the type of items that are being discarded also risk exposing the population to certain types of infections and which are hazardous to the environment.