What’s your view regarding the call for citizens to pay for trash collection? Would it result in improved service or is it another expense that citizens would have to face for substandard returns? While we all have a good idea how that proposal would pan out, the call has been made nevertheless by none other than the CEO of the Solid Waste Management Company, Ronald Roach. He told a forum recently that the service cannot continue to be free to the public as it is becoming more and more complex.
But isn’t garbage collection already paid for by the people? And isn’t the re-imposition of property tax supposed to provide funding for municipal services? Most citizens of civilised nations pay taxes that partly fund services like sanitation and street lighting etc. It’s quite possible that the SWMCOL CEO wasn’t advised of this centuries-long benefit of taxation. What would have been of greater benefit to the gathering at the Chamber of Commerce was a discussion about how SWMCOL has not been driving the effort to recycle. How drains and water courses are cleared occasionally and the filth is left on the side of the road to be re-deposited by rain.
While sanitation services for households is supposedly covered through the payment of regular income tax, there are special instances where collection is paid for. Businesses for instance that produce an unusually large quantity of waste must pay for service. However, those who dump old tyres on the river bank, garbage in the empty lots or discard old appliances in the river are the ones that SWMCOL should be out to penalise. In fact, the only point raised by Mr. Roach that we agree with is that heftier fines should be imposed on those caught littering.
Anyone who travels across our country would realise that no one seems to takes pride in our surroundings. Garbage is everywhere. From the country side to the city, the roads are strewn with garbage, our public spaces are defaced and unsanitary and despite the numerous government unemployment programmes since independence, we have never been able to reverse the cycle of untidiness. Only when all resources are maximised to reduce waste through recycling and we use environmentally friendly products could a fee for garbage collection be considered. Until then, we could only hope that CEPEP doesn’t join the cue, seeking to shake down the already over taxed citizen.