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City Mayor appeals to Local Government Minister to approve littering fines

Last Updated on Thursday, 6 January 2022, 5:39 by Denis Chabrol

City Mayor Ubraj Narine

Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine wants approval for City Police to fine litterbugs between GY$10,000 and $500,000 because he says enforcing the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) in the town makes no financial sense.

“I will spend money and I will not get money…If I bring in fifty people a day, that’s $50,000. How much government is giving me back. Give me half of it,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.  The Mayor suggested that City Hall and the Environmental Protection Agency sign a memorandum of understanding for a percentage of the fines to go to the City administration.

Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall did not respond to a question posed to him on whether he will be approving the City Council’s litter bylaws.

Pressed on why the City Police was not enforcing the EPA even around City Hall and its environs, the Mayor said there is a shortage of manpower. “We limited in staff…Yes, we don’t have enough staff. We need staff,” he said. The Mayor also said that the City Constabulary only has one vehicle and no motorcycles, a constraint he said could be addressed by Central Government and its international partners.

He acknowledged that Georgetown was dirty while he floats the idea of an accord with the EPA or awaits the Local Government Minister’s approval of the anti-litter bylaws, but said City Hall did not have basic resources to catch litterbugs and prosecute them. “I agree with you but whose paper, whose resources you have to use to go to the court for these matters. I’m pressured in a next angle. We must look at things differently sometimes,” he said.

The Mayor said he was depending on the Local Government Minister to approve the bylaws which would include a ticketing system.   He said a majority of the Councillors voted in favour of the bylaws on November 22, 2021.

He said the proposed fines are $10,000 for the first offence, second offence $20,000, third offence $35,000 but not more than $500,000. Mr. Narine said if approved, businesses would have to be licenced if they have the required regulations in place for the disposal of waste. “This bylaw is very important to he City and we can stop the littering as long as the Minister approves such bylaw,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Mayor said he was still awaiting a response from President Irfaan Ali to ensure that the “rightful subvention” to the City amounting to $700 million to $800 million annually. He again appealed to the Central government, private sector and other stakeholders to craft a national solid waste management plan.