Van driver fined over $700 for littering in Layou
A Barrouallie van driver has been made to pay over $700 for making a river in Layou his trash can.
Gideon Nash, the managing director of Nature Care SVG, in November last year, witnessed van driver, Oswald Nero pull over to the side of the road and throw a red and white KFC box into the Layou River.
And on February 27 at the Magistrate’s Court in Layou, Nero was found guilty of littering under the Litter Act (1991) and fined $750.
Nero’s act of littering was contrary to Section 3a (1) of the Act which states that “any person who throws, drops, or otherwise deposits and leaves any litter in or into any public place commits an offence against the Act.”
Nash, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, said that the incident happened exactly one week after a number of agencies did a walk-through in Layou to sensitize the community about the effects of littering.
“The river as it is now is a problem because it is not flowing as it ought to and National Parks organized two weeks prior to that, a cleaning up of the river, where coming out of that, we were able old fridges, chairs like executive chairs and a number of old suitcase and all of these things, old buckets. We moved them and had a truck throw them at the landfill,” Nash, the chairman of National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority said.
“We thought that the community of course had to be responsible for throwing these things in the river so the best thing to do is to educate the community and sensitize them as to why not to do this and what to do with their waste.”
He said that when he witnessed the van driver littering, he stopped him and told him about the sensitization programme and that what he did was wrong.
The National Parks chairman said that Nero responded by saying that “it will rotten down, it will decompose.”
Nash added that the van driver proceeded to curse at him for rebuking the act and drove off.
The businessman said that he takes his job as chairman of the National Parks Authority very seriously. So he made the call to the Layou Police Station, and Nero was arrested on his way back to town that same day.
And Nash told SEARCHLIGHT that he is excited that someone has been convicted under the Litter Act in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“I’m very excited because I think people take it for granted that the Litter Act is just a paper act and not an active act, meaning you cannot really be prosecuted from it…so him being charged, to my mind, is an example of the seriousness in which this Litter Act should be taken and people should know that our country should not be littered whether the rivers, beaches, side road, where ever, we should not be littering our country. After all, we living here and we need to continue to live here,” he said.
The National Parks chairman also encouraged people to speak up when they see others engaging in the act of littering.
He added that ordinary citizens have a right to prosecute or bring a case against anyone they see littering.
“You don’t have to hold a position, you don’t have to work at the Ministry of Health, you don’t have to work at National Parks, you don’t have to work at Public Health Department, you don’t have to be a police officer…politician or any special person. Every citizen has the right to take somebody before the magistrate, if they find them littering the country,” Nash said.
Winsbert Quow, Solid Waste manager, told SEARCHLIGHT that in his 15 years in the field of Solid Waste management in this country, this is the first charge of littering that he is aware of being brought against any individual and successfully prosecuted under the Litter Act.
He added that members of the public who are concerned about environmental issues have been calling for this kind of “enthusiastic and efficient” action for some time.
“The successful prosecution of this case is a significant milestone in our national thrust to protect our environment by discouraging the undesirable and harmful practice of littering,” Quow said.
“We hope that this case serves as a deterrent to those who continue to litter despite years of public education initiatives by various institutions through school programmes, workshops and all forms of media.”
The Solid Waste Manager said that littering continues to be a major issue in this country, as there are still many people who hold the view that if they do not litter, then sanitation workers would be out of a job.
But he advised that littering in drains, rivers and roads can have damaging effects on both the environment and human beings.
“When you have littering, it encourages breeding of rodents and roaches, because sometimes people litter with food…people throw stuff in drains and rivers which ends up in the sea…which affects our fish and coral reefs,” he said.
He added that fish can eat litter that has been broken up into small particles and this in turn returns to the human food chain.
Quow also said that littering is unsightly and devalues the country’s tourism product.