Ladyville Fights Illegal Dumping
A recent fire in the Ladyville community has brought into sharp focus the ongoing issue of illegal dumpsites that have been popping up through the village on the Philip Goldson Highway. Residents from the village and elsewhere have indiscriminately been disposing of their garbage anywhere there is an empty spot. Aside from being an eyesore, the garbage sites also pose health problems. News Five Duane Moody finds out that residents are prepared to take action to clean up the eyesore.
Sanitation is a most expensive venture for any village, town or city to manage. And if not properly disposed of, garbage can pile up within days threatening public health and become a hazard for persons living in proximity to illegal dumping sites. The Ladyville community, including Lord’s Bank and surrounding areas have been faced with this perennial issue. So much so, that the Department of Environment and the Belize Solid Waste Management and Authority have partnered with the area rep to tackle this problem.
Beverly Williams, Area Rep., Belize Rural Central
“Garbage disposal and dumpsites have been a never-ending issue, almost appears untenable within the Ladyville area, Lord’s Bank. We have been working in partner with Solid Waste and the Department of Environment for some time now, I would say three years now. Whether it is dumping at the facility through the Boom Road, supplying funds to pay contractors who come in clean it up and the very next day, there is garbage on the ground. Most alarmingly is when we had the medical waste dumped within Ladyville. But it is an incessant problem that we continue to address.”
Hotspots, illegal dumpsites have been popping up across Ladyville, primarily near the outskirts of the village. And while some villagers themselves are guilty of littering and illegally disposing their trash, evidence has shown that residents from neighboring villages such as Sand Hill have been dumping their garbage in Ladyville. This is despite the nearby solid waste transfer station on the Boom Hattieville Circuit. This is of major concern for the Solid Waste Management Authority.
Tyrone Chimilio, Communications Officer, Belize Solid Waste Management Authority
“We have two service providers here—Mister Miller and Belize Waste Control—and we want to encourage residents within the area to subscribe to these services than to continue to affect the environment by having these illegal hotspots.”
As it is, there is a minimal fee of twelve dollars monthly for service providers to collect waste generated within the village. And while most ascribe to this, there are still issues of clogged drains and trash accumulating. But there are other aspects to the illegal dumping, specifically the health risks associated with the issue.
Celi Cho, Environmental Officer, Department of Environment
“If you dispose of garbage illegally, if it is in water, bacteria love moist conditions and some garbage has the right conditions for bacteria to grow. And if you are recreating downstream where we have that pollution….children playing in the water, water splash in their mouth they can be affected by germs – things like amoeba, which is a problem through the country as well and that can cause gastroenteritis and things like that. Not only that, if on the land, say someone disposes of their garbage maybe two miles from their home and they say that is far. What happens to pests? We have a lot of pests in this country. We have rodents, opossums, raccoons, things like that that lives out there. They dig around in the garbage looking for food and then they come in your paths. What the department is trying is to impart knowledge on why it is not good to dispose of garbage illegally, how to dispose of it legally and then also hopefully with that knowledge they can start change their attitudes about garbage because one of the things we find out about how people discharge their garbage, it is kind of a cultural issue; they don’t take much importance into proper disposal.”
According to law, the Department of Environment, along with the Health Department, is the body responsible for approving dumpsites. And stakeholders have now embarked on advocacy work in the community by erecting signage near these illegal dumpsites, informing people of the penalties associated with the environmental infractions.
“We are going to put up some signs as well as visiting some primary schools and in general having community meetings along with residents here in Ladyville to advocate against the illegal dumping and of course promoting proper disposal of waste within the community.”
“We have fines where we can charge people but Duane, we have littering and dumping and they are two different things. Littering is a single thing, like a chips bag or a bottle. You throw that out; that is littering. And throughout the country, majority of the country, the fine is one hundred dollars per person and five hundred per company. In Belize City and the border management areas, it is five hundred per person and two thousand per company. But with dumping, dumping is a larger volume. So maybe it is a full garbage bag or even more. And [the illegal] disposal of that, the Department of Environment can charge up to five thousand dollars.”
Under the littering offenses legislation, several persons are authorized to issue tickets to those in violation of the law. Enforcement measures continue throughout the country and persons caught carrying out these illegal activities will be fined forthwith. Duane Moody for News Five.