West Berbice local govt, community join hands on garbage project

By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
June 23, 2001

The Union?Naarstigheid Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the business community at Bush Lot Village, West Coast Berbice recently agreed to jointly tackle the long-standing problem of garbage collection in the NDC area.

The agreement was reached earlier this month at the council's statutory meeting at its Bush Lot office which was attended by some 21 business persons and environmental health officer, Ignatius Merai. The exercise will also be conducted in collaboration with the adjoining Woodley Park Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).

According to chairman of the Union?Naarstigheid NDC, Edwin Joseph, the arrangements will be fine?tuned at a follow?up meeting on Monday at the NDC's office.

However, he told Stabroek News that the collection of garbage will initially be spearheaded by a Bush Lot businessman who owns a tractor and a dump?trailer. Payment for work done, he said, would be settled between the collector and the community.

The chairman is urging other residents who own tractors and dump?trailers and are willing to be involved in such an exercise to contact the NDC as soon as possible. The NDC and the environmental health officer, he said, will be responsible for ensuring that the health and sanitation regulations are adhered to by the collector.

In a recent interview with this newspaper, Joseph said "the environment is a mess and people are responsible for this situation. We established a dump?site aback of Bush Lot but people simply refuse to dump their garbage there, preferring to do so along parapets and empty lots."

Responding to accusations by some PPP/Civic councillors, the chairman explained that the council's accounts for 1999 and 2000 have been submitted for auditing and the audit should be completed within another few weeks.

According to Joseph, who is also co?owner of the Sapodilla Learning Centre at No 22 Bel Air, "roaming cattle remains a major problem in the NDC area as they continue to damage streets, parapets, dumps and infrastructure. I am again appealing to cattle owners to have consideration for others and understand that they cannot rear cattle under their bottom?houses since they can spread disease and pose serious health hazards in residential areas."

He said some five acres of land have been made available by the council at Hopetown for a cattle pasture.

"The problem is concentrated mainly in the Hopetown/Bel Air?No. 22 area," he pointed out and called on cattle owners and affected residents to visit the council to discuss ways and means of alleviating the problem.

Touching on plans for the rest of the year, the chairman said most of the $3M government subvention will be spent on drainage and irrigation works, kokers, road barriers and desilting of drains and canals. "However, education is also needed to prevent the constant destruction of infrastructure. I want to deliver a high level of service to the people but they also have an important role to play."

According to overseer Alberta Carmichael, the council's collectible rates and taxes is approximately $2M but to date it has only received some 15 percent of that amount.

The council, established in 1970, is comprised of ten Development Group councillors and eight PPP/Civic councillors. The NDC area stretches five miles along the West Berbice coastline from Union to Naarstigheid and encompasses 14 villages with an estimated population of 15,000. Rice and cash crop cultivation, cattle and livestock rearing are the main forms of livelihood for residents.

However, for decades the villages have been plagued by inadequate drainage and irrigation facilities which have resulted in perennial flooding.