Monday, June 17, 2024

SPTC tackling illegal dumping: violators will be prosecuted

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The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) administration is tackling the issue of illegal dumping and warning those involved that they will be penalized for their actions. According to SPTC, inspections are being carried out regularly, and anyone found illegally dumping garbage will face hefty fines and possible criminal charges. Public assistance is also requested in reporting any littering offenses by calling 226-2198 or visiting the SPTC on Barrier Reef Drive with evidence if possible.
The ongoing issue of illegal dumping in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, has continuously affected the community. Several attempts have been made to discourage these practices, but improper garbage disposal seems to occur daily. In the past, community groups, the SPTC, and even students have joined in carrying out clean-up campaigns to clean up the town and encourage others to help keep the island garbage-free. However, those efforts yield little effect as the issue persists.
Aiming to take a different approach to tackle the problem, Mayor Gualberto’ Wally’ Nuñez stated that his team is now fully enforcing fines against anyone caught littering. The Mayor pointed out that a particular dumping site north of San Pedro led to the issuing of $1,000 fines to a group of people found liable for the offense. Nuñez said they were ordered to clean up the area after the fine. SPTC’s stern response to the incident resulted in the rubbish being removed and the property leveled with white marl material.
Another issue SPTC addresses is improper garbage disposal by private garbage collectors offering services to north Ambergris Caye residents. Instead of dumping the collected trash at the Solid Waste Management Transfer Station, these garbage collectors carelessly dump garbage on public or private land. The Mayor speculates that this is done not to pay the transfer station’s fees for their services.
One of the areas targeted for dumping is along the San Pedrito Highway connecting the subdivisions of San Pedrito and San Pablo. Several clean-up campaigns have been carried out in this area which continues to be affected by illegal dumping. This area’s most extensive clean-up effort was held in November 2018 and organized by the San Pedro Branch of the Belize Tourism Industry Association. Over three days, more than 100 persons participated in removing tons of rubbish, a giant eyesore threatening the fragile surrounding ecosystem. Despite this huge collective effort, a short time after, in 2019, the said area was choked with rubbish once again.
Community clean-ups
Since entering office, the Mayor and his team have been conducting clean-up campaigns in different subdivisions. Most of these activities occur during the monthly mobile health clinic initiative spearheaded by the SPTC, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and Area Representative Honourable Andre Perez. Since February, this activity not only brings health services to islanders in the different residential areas but also serves as an opportunity to encourage everyone to keep their subdivisions clean. So far, mobile health clinics have been held in both the San Mateo and the San Pedrito Areas. The next health mobile clinic is set for Saturday, May 20th, in the DFC subdivision, with booths set up directly across from Daddy’s Pub. Residents are invited to join efforts to keep the island clean and participate in the event.
The SPTC appeals to the public to practice proper garbage disposal practices and to report any illegal activities to the relevant authorities. As a tourism destination, improper garbage disposal makes the island less attractive and pollutes the surrounding ecosystems, like the barrier reef, which supports the tourism industry and benefits the local island economy.

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