A report by the Office of the Pubic Defender, OPD, has found that the National Solid Waste Management Authority, NSWMA breached several laws in its administration of the Riverton City Dump in St. Andrew.
Nationwide News has obtained a copy of the Public Defender’s investigative report into the March 2015 fire at the Riverton City Dump.
The document paints a bleak picture of an agency, which is found to have been operating without any regard for rules, environmental regulations or laws.
The March 2015 fire at the Riverton City Dump was described as the worst ever.
It was that fire which prompted the Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry to launch a full probe into the entity that is tasked with managing the dump, the NSWMA.
The Office found that reports of insufficient resources being made available to the agency for the disposal site was untrue.
In fact, the OPD states that billions of dollars provided for Riverton and other disposal sites have not been accounted for, nor have the earnings of the parks and markets.
It finds that the NSWMA operated with impunity, disregarding and ignoring the terms and conditions of environmental permits issued by the National Environment and Planning Agency, NEPA.
The NSWMA was found to have made little effort to be compliant with these rules while giving excuses as to why it could not comply with regulations.
The authority also got a failing grade for neglecting its legal duty to safeguard the public health of Jamaicans.
Additionally, the report also finds that since the NSWMA’s inception and up until as recently as 2014, the agency operated and managed the Riverton dump without an environmental permit.
The NSWMA’s then Executive Director Jennifer Edwards was not spared in the Public Defenders’ report.
The OPD says Ms. Edwards seemed to have operated as an executive chairman of the board without sufficient checks and balances.
Under her stewardship, the authority failed to appreciate the absolute necessity for observing all NEPA’s conditions
The financial affairs of the waste management facility were no better.
According to the OPD, the NSWMA managed its financial affairs without a sense of duty and accountability to the people of Jamaica.
The Public Defender made the shocking revelation that the Agency has not submitted neither annual reports nor audited financial statements to Parliament in over 10 years.
The OPD has recommended that persons who were affected by the March fire be identified and monitored by the Ministry of Health to determine long term effects and cost to the individuals.
It’s also recommending that a forensic audit be conducted on the accounts of the NSWMA and its affiliate companies and subsidiaries.
The Public Defender has called on the Contractor General to investigate the circumstances under which the NSWMA has come to be indebted to former employees in a sum in excess of 2-hundred-million dollars.