Once a spectacle of a town and the envy of many, Port Antonio is now overrun by rats and other rodents, which have created panic among business operators, whose commercial waste has been left uncollected for several days.
The garbage pile-up, which has led to an unbearable stench lingering throughout the parish capital, has also forced the cancellation of at least six cruise ship stops that were destined for the resort town during the ongoing winter tourist season a move that has further crippled the already fragile tourism sector in Portland.
“We are faced with a race against time,” Port Antonio Mayor Paul Thompson said.
“With a cruise ship schedule for January 4, it is going to be a serious challenge getting the town back to a state of readiness and acceptance. Nevertheless, it has to be done. It will require the full support of all the stakeholders to rid Port Antonio of commercial waste, which has become a breeding ground for rats and a playground for dogs. Persons of unsound mind have also contributed to the crisis situation, as they too have scattered garbage along the corridors,” he added.
According to Thompson, business operators and other residents need to embrace the changes that will be coming on stream and buy into the idea of restoring civic pride.
During a tour of the town yesterday, Thompson expressed shock at seeing the many blocked drains in and around Port Antonio. The matter is further compounded by a heavy litter of plastic bottles, styrofoam and plastic bags, which have clogged up most of the drains leading out to the sea.
IRREGULAR GARBAGE COLLECTION
One business operator, Garfield Sinclair of Kamals Enterprise, who met with the mayor for the first time since being elected, pointed out that the irregular collection of garbage on the part of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is seriously affecting his daily operation.
“I have a contractual arrangement with NSWMA wherein I pay them a monthly fee to collect my garbage,” said Sinclair.
“The last time my garbage was collected was three days ago, and it is piling up as we speak. I am well aware that only one garbage truck is up and running, and therefore, I will have to make alternative arrangements to ensure that my waste is collected and properly disposed of. The town of Port Antonio is real dirty, and it is rather a painful sight to look at. I will gladly assist with any effort to restore civic pride to this town, especially with the coming of cruise ships.”
Meanwhile, Thompson has outlined a number of measures that are to be implemented to combat the garbage situation in Port Antonio and its environs. He stressed that the drains need to be cleaned frequently and that garbage skips should be placed at a central locations to store commercial waste.
He also said the municipal police also need to receive the powers to be able to issue tickets to commercial business operators, who fail to comply with the new regulations.