Businesses urged to join anti-litter fight

( –  Litterbugs now face stiffer penalties, jail time

The business community in Guyana is being urged to support the new multi-million dollar anti-litter programme geared towards cleaning up the capital city, Georgetown, and other towns and villages across the country.

Effective March 1, new litter prevention regulations now see harsher penalties being imposed on those guilty of littering that range from hefty fines to jail time in some cases.

Authorities at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which falls under the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, say among the actions being taken in the first phase of the implementation of the new regulations is the engagement of the business community in Georgetown.

Kemraj Parsram

Kemraj Parsram

Speaking on the weekly television programme; El Dorado Shines, Kemraj Parsram, a Director at the EPA said, “The first aspects of testing it out is to basically reach out to the businesses, sensitising them about the litter prevention regulations, what are their respective responsibilities and basically providing the education awareness, providing documentation, pamphlets and what have you. All in all not to go aggressively to say right away we are going to charge you. We want them to become aware of what their responsibilities are before we give them the full arm of the law.”

The first course of action in dealing with businesses guilty of littering, he said, is to issue a clean-up order which is intended to have the operators of the business in question take immediate steps to remove the garbage dumped illegally.

“We are also looking at keys areas where there are significant illegal dumping and will basically be issuing what you call clean up orders or litter removal orders. So for example, if we notice a pile of garbage in front x and y store, we would approach the owners and talk to them in a very cordial manner, asking them to assist in cleaning it up. For the first month that is the plan, to go street by street, across Regent Street, Church Street, Robb Street, Stabroek Market, Bourda Market; those areas are basically the litter hot spots in Georgetown and we are not going alone, as I said we are  going in partnership with the City Constabulary,” Parsram stated.

The EPA said litter wardens will now be on the lookout for litterbugs all across the city. Commenting on this, EPA Legal Officer,

Richard Layne

Richard Layne

Richard Layne said, “If a warden in his investigation discovers that a particular premises is kept in such a state that it creates an eyesore to the overall surroundings or it places a danger to the health of humans then the warden can issue what’s called a clean-up order. This will mandate the person who is responsible for creating the litter to clean up the premises within a specified period and if that timeframe is not complied with then they would be liable to a fine of $30,000.00 under the regulations.”

In instances where a business is unable to take the necessary steps to clean up garbage dumped illegally, authorities intend to step in and take the lead.

“The agency also has the mandate under the act through the litter wardens to, if the circumstances warrant it, undertake the clean-up action with us actually bearing the cost and then once the surroundings are adequately cleaned then the agency would issue the cost of the clean up to the business person for them to bear,” Layne said.

The new regulations make it an offence, not only to litter directly, but also to cause another person to litter.In the regulations the provisions are wide enough in its scope to cover not only persons who physically deposit litter but also those who through their conduct or their words cause litter to be deposited…This will cover situations for instance with business persons who may give their refuse to vagrants to be deposited and then they offer them no guidance in terms of how they should appropriately discard of the litter,” Layne added.

A person found guilty of depositing litter in a public place is liable upon conviction to pay a fine of $50,000. In the case of a corporation the fine is $100,000.

Both Parsram and Layne urged the business community and citizens across the country to play a role in helping to fix this problem, which they say have reached epic proportions.