Granville Division Councilor Michael Troupe (right) bought one of the workers a glass of rum from the popular mobile bar at the retirement dump on Monday afternoon.
MONTEGO BAY, St James – Everything you want and more can be found at the trouble-ridden retirement dump in St James, even a go-go club, according to the councilor in whose division he sits.
In fact, Councilor Michael Troupe (People’s National Party, Granville Division) is convinced that the booming commercial activity taking place at the dump contributes to the frequent fires that have reduced air quality there in large swaths of the parish.
“Let me give you a glimpse of what the dump looks like…” he said in response to a question about whether the latest fire was caused by intruders. “If you want a drink of rum, there’s a bar at the retirement dump, if you want clothes of all kinds, there’s a store at the retirement dump, and if you want medicine…
“There is an active bar; if you like go-go they have a nightclub there.”
He was responding, at last Thursday’s regular meeting of the St James Municipal Corporation, to a question from Government Senator Councilor Charles Sinclair (Jamaica Labor Party, Montego Bay North East Division).
This old container is available for $5,500 per month. It comes with a mattress and a man, someone who makes a living from commercial activity in retirement dump said on Monday.
When the Jamaica Observer visited the dump on Monday afternoon with Troupe, some of the scenes he described were easy to spot, like the car that doubles as a bar. Troupe, in order to verify his declarations to the corporation, ordered a few sticks of cigarettes for himself and a glass of rum for one of the workers.
Other business activities had to be explained, such as the blue cargo container that the Observer I was told it was ready to be rented out. For $5,500 a month, says one enterprising individual, the container offers a room, a bed, and a man.
The old wooden bar and the old infamous house have been abandoned in another part of the site, the one that saw the last fire. Commercial activity moves to where the spill takes place, the Observer has been said.
There is a main gate to which the entrance is supposed to be guarded but the Observer easily accessible using a road at the back of the dump on Mondays.
This is the old bar which was abandoned after the main activity of the landfill was moved to a new location due to the recent fire.
Lax safety measures, Troupe said at last week’s meeting, contribute to problems at the landfill – like the recent fire.
“I agree with Senator Sinclair. The problem is there. We’ve been asking for so long that anyone who has the right to enter be given ID. Get up there, how many people have ID to get in there. Is the wall around the landfill properly secured? he asked rhetorically.
The last fire at the landfill started on March 28 and, supported by unusually strong winds, lasted about three days, belching thick plumes of smoke that enveloped nearby communities.
Last Thursday Troupe said the smoke was ‘still lingering’ and he warned there was likely to be a lawsuit ahead against the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).
The disreputable old house, now abandoned, because the main activity of the landfill has been relocated.
“The citizens of La Retraite and Granville are getting together, moreover we have hired a lawyer. There will be a test case. Citizens gathered, and I myself will be part of it and very soon it will be served on solid waste [NSWMA],” he said.
The troop’s threat was supported by Advisor Dwight Crawford (JLP, Spring Garden Division).
“The fire at the Retirement landfill is unacceptable. Residents of Granville and the Retired Quarter are suffering… the smoke was so thick you can cut it with a knife. It is untenable. It is very rare for science and public opinion to meet, but clearly this cannot continue,” he said.
Trucks lined up at the entrance to the retirement landfill, waiting to unload the waste on Monday afternoon.
His suggestion is to move the dump because, in his view, the issues are too serious to fix.
“If we’re pulling material from as far away as Westmoreland, Hanover and Trelawny, there’s no reason it should be right on the doorstep of the fastest growing city in this hemisphere. It can be moved. I recommend to solid waste to move the city dump and find abandoned sugarcane lands where no one lives… so if there were to be a fire, it would not affect thousands of residents,” said said Crawford.
— Venesha Morris