Port Antonio, Jamaica is a popular cruise destination working hard to clean up the flood of garbage, which has led to serious rat problem and cancelation of 6 cruise ship calls.
Port Antonio was once the main port for banana exports in Jamaica, and in its heyday was a destination for Hollywood celebrities. Currently, it is better known as a quiet stopover for smaller cruise ships, but piles of garbage have hurt its reputation among cruise operators.
The town lost 6 port calls this season due to unsanitary conditions, and it may soon lose another. On January 4, the 170-passenger sailing vessel Star Flyer is due to call at Port Antonio on her voyage to Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Local businesses say that garbage pickup services have been slow and infrequent, and Thompson pledged to negotiate with the national garbage company to hire in private contractors to do the job instead. In addition, Thompson has promised tighter enforcement of the town's anti-littering laws.
Last week, the executive director of Jamaica's National Solid Waste Management Agency, Audley Gordon, said that his organization wants to address the problem and is considering a new public-private partnership.
“We are in conversation now . . . to see how we can implement a pilot project in one of our regions where there is an investor who is willing to bring in 40-odd trucks,” he said.
He added that he will meet with Port Antonio stakeholders early in 2017 to address local problems. However, he countered that part of the issue lay with the citizenry.
"We know some businesses are disposing of garbage improperly . . . Garbage is thrown from cars, in gullies, open lots, on the streets. Even where there are proper receptacles, people refuse to use them and in many cases steal or relocate them," he said.