Hundreds turn up to clean St James’ beaches

SCORES of volunteers turned up on Saturday to remove refuse from the beaches and other parts of the shoreline in St James.

Their effort was in tandem with International Coastal Clean-up Day activities and saw individuals, outfitted with gloves and armed with garbage bags, descend on beaches to remove mainly plastic waste and other forms of garbage.

From as early as 6:00 am, volunteers could be seen combing beaches from Greenwood in the east to Unity Hall in the west, their bags filled with garbage — the result of their actions.

Hugh Shim, executive director of Montego Bay Marine Park Trust, and members of his team, in addition to a swath of volunteers, converged on Old Hospital Beach for their part in the effort.

Shim said he was pleased with how things turned out.

“The support has been really good. I mean, people are scattered all over the place but it is a good amount of people that are here today,” he stated.

“Different age groups, different companies, schools, and like just ordinary people who wanted to participate are here as well. This shows that people really care,” he added.

He, however, took the opportunity to slam the individuals whose uncaring actions continue to force people to participate in such activities.

“It is a shame that they have to come and pick up other people’s garbage because I’m sure none of these people leave any of these garbage over here,” he stated.

Several volunteer groups turned up at the site at Old Hospital Beach Park. Among them were volunteers from the Lions Club of Montego Bay, which had among them participants from RIU hotels and Vista – Montego Bay.

President of Lions Club Damion McKenzie revealed some of what the members of the group managed to do with their combined effort.

“We had upwards of 40 persons that took part in the beach clean-up. At a glance, I think we have moved over 45 bags of garbage, including a lot of plastic bottles which we have seen, over the years, as predominantly what we see on the beaches and the streets — so we are happy that we could remove some today,” he stated.

However, despite the work that was carried out, McKenzie wants to see more done to prevent such a thing from happening, pointing to some of the issues he thinks contributes to the current situation.

“We have a two-pronged problem: We have citizens who, I might argue, are not necessarily advised and educated about how to take care of their environment, and two, we don’t have proper local structures, in my estimation, that would create proper facilities for persons to properly dispose of their garbage,” he remarked.

Kenya Keddo Laing and members of the TPDCo team took their combined energy to the nearby Dead End Beach where they too managed to remove a significant amount of waste.

She said it was important to participate in this way, given that both locals and visitors benefit from the use of the beach.

“The Dead End Beach is widely used by both locals and visitors and [we] want to ensure that the beach is in a good state for those who want to use it,” she stated.

She said the team had been cleaning the area as part of the event for the last four years, and the members expect to continue supporting the initiative based on important it is.