Litterbugs can now be fined up to $50,000 for careless disposal of waste, but these new laws are already clashing with the Municipal Act which governs the Mayor and City Council (M&CC); the constitutional body tasked with managing the capital.
The Council’s Solid Waste Director, Walter Narine told attendees of the Council’s budget reading last week that under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, along with the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA), new regulations have been put in place to tackle the garbage crisis by putting in place stiffer penalties for those littering the city.
He explained that among the new regulations are implementations where persons found littering will be served littering tickets on the spot; which will mean they will have fines to pay. It also includes motor vehicle drivers bearing the responsibility for anyone throwing litter out of their vehicles. It was added that for now, some 12 litter wardens will be hired to monitor public areas; specifically for litterbugs.
Where the M&CC under the Municipal and District Act Chapter 28:01; is allowed to fine persons $10,000 for littering, the EPA can now fine a person $50,000.
The Solid Waste Director told the gathering that he would be working closely with the agencies involved in this regard.
Chief Constable Andrew Foo also recognized the new regulations being enforced and said that the Constabulary is in discussions with the EPA over its implementation. He said the new regulations are being made known, but the Constabulary currently enforces the bylaws against dumping and littering of the Municipal Act of 28:01.
He said, however, that in discussions about the new regulations better mechanisms for prosecuting perpetrators are being looked at, while adding that significant interest is being placed in the setting up of a hotline for concerned persons to make reports against those littering indiscriminately.
This was a suggestion forwarded by a concerned citizen during last week’s budget reading. To that, Foo said that it is necessary for the hotline so that citizens making a report against someone can do so.
It was also suggested by another citizen that certain measures could be put in place to encourage a cleaner city. It included tax exemptions for corporations who take a specific community and invest in its development and good keeping. To that suggestion, Town Clerk Carol Sooba pointed out that the Municipal Act caters for persons who take pride in their surroundings to get 10 percent exemption in taxes.
However, while City Councilors encourage an increase in littering fines they raised several concerns about the development. Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase- Green told Kaieteur News that, “while Chapter 28:01of the Public Health Act gives the authority to the Council for littering; a fine of $10,000 payable to the Court, which we don’t collect, we understand that litter wardens have the authority to arrest and fine up to $50,000 in Georgetown.” Chase- Greene said that monies from persons littering are not paid to the Council, but it is understood that this new law “overrides” that of the Council.
Both Chase – Green and Mayor Hamilton Greene are of the view that the new regulations should be for any other public space, but not the city; since the Council is not given the authority or resources to effectively manage it.
The Deputy Mayor added that no consultation was held with the Council over the new laws that override the Municipal Act for Georgetown. Chase- Green said she learnt about the new laws at a forum that was attended by the Minister of Local Government, but the executives of the Council including the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor were not made aware of the issue. The Deputy Mayor believes that the implementation of the new laws is conflicting and confusing.
Without consultations or information to the Council, she believes that it is another strategy that takes away the powers of the City Council.
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