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National Solid Waste faces funding challenge

by pointe team
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The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is currently carrying
out an extensive programme of cleaning drains here on Antigua; but it faces two
challenges, the indiscriminate littering in the country and not sufficient funds to
fully finance its operations.
Chairman of NSWMA, Michael Joseph, said the authority has several teams that
are carrying out drain cleaning daily across Antigua where there are fifty-one
major waterways, each of which further branches off to other smaller waterways.
Beside the sheer scope of keeping abreast with the need to keep these waterways
clear to prevent flooding during heavy rainfalls, littering by members of the public
has contributed significantly to the problem.

“Recently, there was a flooding in the Jennings area that affected many residents
and when our teams went to investigate, they discovered that someone had
disposed of an old motor vehicle in an area that was a natural waterway. That
vehicle then blocked the water as it made its during from the rains and the backed-
up water caused major flooding in the area. This is a serious challenge for us. We
clean a drain and three or four months later, we have to return because of the
indiscriminate littering,” Joseph explained.
Another area of consider for the NSWMA chairman is in the area of funding for
the authority’s operations. He said funding comes from two main sources; visitors
to the country pay a US$1.50 tax that goes directly to NSWMA. This applies to
both cruise and airline visitors. The other source is the Environment Levy that is
paid on the importation of both new and used vehicles into the country. However,
according to the NSWMS chairman, the waiver of this tax in recent years has point
a serious dent in the funding available for NSWMA operations.
He reported that he has voiced his concerns with the Cabinet to protect this funding
source as the demands on NSWMA are significant especially in light of the threats
of an over-active hurricane season this year.
Joseph noted also that the amounts paid by visitors fall off precipitously during the
summer when cruise calls and airline flights are reduced.
Despite the odds, he said drain clearings have been completed in Golden Grove
Extension, the Rural West constituency, the Point Area, Old Parham Road,
Lightfoot with Potters and Royal Gardens slated to be the areas next tackled.

Along with cleaning the drains, NSWMA is also carrying out daily flushing of the
gutters in St. John’s; this is to prevent flooding, which has been a common problem
in some areas of the city.

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