Over 200 persons arrested for the year so far littering

A 'no littering' sign in Georgetown

Over 200 persons have this year been arrested for their callous disposal of waste, according to Walter Narine, Director of Solid Waste Management at the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), who on Tuesday said the arrests and subsequent prosecutions were effected after the individuals had been identified by the Council’s Litter Patrol team.

This Litter Patrol team was established earlier this year to address littering in the capital city. This, Narine has said, is in keeping with the vision of the Council to transform the municipal district into a scenic tourism destination.

Giving statistics, the Solid Waste Director said that of the estimated 200 persons arrested, 70 per cent have already been charged and placed before the Georgetown Magistrates Courts, while thirty percent are awaiting hearings. He explained that Council is hoping this strategy strikes a cultural change in the way garbage is disposed.

“The fines are harsh: it’s $25,000 for first appearance; you can get $50,000, sometimes up to $500,000, it depends on businesses… Like right now, you’ll see on Princes Street, here, we are doing some clean up, and between Mandela and Vlissengen Road on Princes Street, we have 25 garbage heaps, and that’s only one section of Georgetown,” Narine detailed.

He added that the Solid Waste Management Department is working with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to clamp down on persons caught littering, given that the number of litterbugs arrested this year has increased.

The Council is hoping to increase its human resource for the Litter Patrol team in 2024, in an effort to expand the service to several communities around the city, including East and West Ruimveldt as well as Cummings Lodge, which are known for having bulky garbage.

“We need to beef up the current team, we need at least 12 or 15 persons to do (so). We are looking at it right now, to see if we can have our staff from the Solid Waste Department (join the) City Constabulary, because they’re the ones doing the patrol for us,” he said.

The fines accumulated by the court go to the Consolidated Fund, and are returned to the M&CC annually as part of the subvention.

Narine said the money is used to purchase machines and fund other projects being spearheaded by Council.

Council wants this campaign to be a continuous exercise in which civil society participates, including those community leaders within the fifteen constituencies. Narine believes this would play a pivotal role in ensuring the garbage within communities is disposed of properly, and citizens take responsibility for the appearance of their surroundings.