City Council proposes fines up to $500k or six months jail for littering
In a sweeping move to prohibit the dumping of litter on lands, roadways, waterways and private properties in the capital city of Georgetown, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is proposing a range of bylaws that will, once approved, attract hefty fines or prison time.
The anti-littering regulations have proposed fines for violators no less than $35,000 but not exceeding $500,000. Failure to pay the fine shall attract an additional fine of $10,000 for every 24 hours payment remains outstanding.
With a clause that asks for all fines to be paid within three days, if the payment remains outstanding after 72 hours, the violator becomes liable to imprisonment for six months.
Mayor Ubraj Narine said these bylaws were already approved by the Council and consultations will now take place with the public before final ratification by the government.
“We have to get some strict rules and regulations in this country. We are developing and with oil and gas, there are a lot of investors and if these things don’t come in place now, we will find ourselves in trouble later on,” he told the News Room during an interview at his office on Wednesday.
According to the proposed bylaws, the Council will make garbage receptacles mandatory for residences and business places. Mayor Narine said if this is not in place, it can attract a fine between $10,000 to $20,000.
Also, persons who urinate or defecate in open spaces in the city, drivers who allow passengers to litter from their vehicles, those who ask others to dispose of their garbage, will be liable for fines.
“We don’t want to put the burden on businesses or any individuals but we are putting these things in place so people can be able to adhere to rules and regulations and we can live in a cleaner environment,” he added.
Already approved by the Council, with amendments to be made with regards to fees, the Mayor said, “I believe it will help us with our garbage situation in the city.”
Narine also believes the bylaws should take effect in all municipalities but that will need to be decided by the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall.
The Mayor has called for support from all stakeholders, particularly the private sector, as it moves to publish the proposed bylaws for 21 days for the public’s input and reviews, after which, amendments will need to be approved by the Council before it is sent to the minister for government ratification, following which it will be gazetted and brought into effect.
There is no timeline for this process.
“We are looking to have this passed by the minister,” the Mayor clarified. He said himself, several councilors and attorneys have been working since January 2021 to craft the bylaws.
Under Chapter 28 Section 304 of the Municipals and Districts Councils Act, the City Council has the authority to propose and approve bylaws to empower local democratic organs.
Already, the Litter Enforcement Regulations (2013) prohibits anyone from improper waste disposal making it an offence to litter.
Enforceable by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), persons can be charged for littering in a public place with fines between $50,000 to $100,000 or face imprisonment for three months. It is hardly enforced.
According to the mayor, in order to address the country’s garbage and associated litter issue, he has asked the government to consider a Solid Waste Act and a national solid waste management system in keeping with a 2014/2015 report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Meanwhile, the Council is also looking to put other policies in place. In addition to the littering bylaws, the Council recently passed a pile-driving policy, filming policy and a scholarship policy.
Works are ongoing on a fixed asset management policy and a donation and grant policy.
“Why we are putting these policies in place is because there are no policies at the level of the city council and I recognised this since I took office… this will help with better administration and a better council in the future.”
The mayor said he is also working to have updated building bylaws, and fees and fines bylaws that will stipulate that all fees and fines must come to the Council instead of going to the government.