The constant fire at the Riverton City landfill is both a public health emergency and a human rights issue. Since the latest incident of fire at the landfill (last week) the air quality in and around sections of Kingston and St. Andrew, as well as, parts of Portmore have been compromise due to the polluted air from toxic chemicals which has blanketed sections of the city for days.

Thousands of Jamaicans, including me, have been experiencing respiratory tract infections and have had to seek medical attention.

While the fire continues to take a toll on the environment and the health of citizens the silence from the top officials at the Ministry of Health has been rather deafening.  It defies logical reasoning why have the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) continue to allow the National Solid Waste Management and Authority (NSWMA) to operate Riverton City Landfill in light of all the problems which have plagued the operation over the years?

In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a direct result of the human atrocities of World War 2.

Article 22, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) outlines the socio-economic Human Rights, such as the Right to Health. This right to health is clearly being violated since many Jamaicans are in ill-health due to the constant fire at the Riverton City landfill.

Human rights are inalienable rights of any person, inherent due to the sole reason that he or she is human. Article 24, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) gives every person the Right to Rest. However, the right to rest is being clearly tested since even when one is inside and closes all the windows and doors the soot, ash and other debris from the burning Riverton City landfill finds a way to enter one’s  home and into your lungs.  Is that only some Jamaicans have the right to rest while others of us must suffer through the many burning episodes of the Riverton City landfill?


Another issue we need to factor in is the loss of productivity. Time taken away from work and or school to recover and regain one’s state of health is a clear and present danger to Jamaica’s economic recovery.  We need to hear from the authorities regarding the long term vision for the landfill.

Maybe the solutions to the problem are beyond our scope as a developing society.  Maybe we need to ask for help from the international community. However, what is clear is that we cannot continue to have Riverton City landfill in the middle of the city where anyone can enter the vast acreage and start a fire.

Wayne Campbell