Residents of Mabaruma in the North West District (NWD) of Region One (Barima/Waini) may soon be fined or jailed for littering. This follows the launch of the Mabaruma waterfront clean-up project at Kumaka on Monday last.
The project is an initiative of the Ministry of Natural Resources in collaboration with the Regional Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA will act as an enforcement agent on the project which seeks to reduce littering and improve the management of solid waste.
EPA through regulations enshrined in the constitution can prosecute for illegal dumping and littering. Senior environmental officer of EPA, Odessa Duncan says it is hoped that it will be able to create behavioural change in personal disposal of waste: “The EPA is looking to support the Ministry’s effort with enforcement. We will work with the NDC and the Town Council to ensure that persons who continue to dispose of their litter improperly will be charged and will be fined so as to maintain a clean environment.”
Meanwhile, environmental advisor coordinator Dr Latchmin Punalall speaking at the launch at the Mabaruma NARIE Regional Office noted that the Ministry of Communities is also involved in the project: “The community as a whole will be enhanced and so we are encouraging persons not only to clean up but after we would have taken most of the stuff away that you keep it clean. I know the first phase where we have the huge amount of garbage to clean, you will not be able to facilitate it, so we will facilitate this first phase and then without much expense you will be able to keep it clean.”
Regional Chairman Brentnol Ashley said Region One Administration is not only looking to see that the Region becomes cleaner but the entire country: “As you know the government is poised on a green initiative to make Guyana a better country environmentally, and so the RDC would like to see it better and so over the coming months there are going to be a lot of projects that will be initiated that will strengthen this project.”
A similar project was launched at Port Kaituma on Tuesday, following others that were launched in Bartica and Kwakwani. The ministry also plans to launch a similar project in Lethem, Region Nine, next week.
Meanwhile, some residents of Kumaka expressed concern over the sustainability of the project, stating that traders from neighbouring Venezuela dispose of their waste in an improper manner coupled with the waste which comes from businesses situated along the Aruka River.
In an invited comment EPA’s Duncan said residents also have a role to play under the project and that is to report instances of improper dumping: “When that information gets to us we will be able to take action and have those persons charged. That is why we also have an education component of the project.”