Amid the water crisis in Mississippi’s capital city, Jackson has denied its residents once again another basic public service – trash pickup.
Come Saturday, residents will not have garbage collection and will be forced to find other means of disposal. Instead of identifying a sensible solution for residents, Jackson leadership announced Thursday that people should reduce the amount of waste within each household and store seafood waste inside freezers. Residents do have the option to take their garbage to the city’s hazardous waste site, that is if they have the spare time or means necessary to do so.
Over 150,000 people will be affected by this – the same 150,000 who just endured an almost two-month water boil notice and several days without running water.
Jackson began contracting with Richard’s Disposal in April after the contract with the city’s previous disposal group, Waste Management, expired. After much dispute between Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and the city council, Lumumba issued an emergency contract to Richard’s Disposal, despite it not being approved by the council. The majority of the council wanted to reinstate Waste Management as the city’s service provider, but Lumumba was persistent on contracting with Richard’s due to the lower rates the company offered.
After six months of work, Richard’s Disposal has seen no compensation, and the company, rightly said they have had enough of Jackson’s incompetency. The company also is suing the city for the $5 million it should have received since work began.
Why does a capital city continue to see public needs stripped like this? That would be from poor leadership and elected officials who do not know the meaning of collaboration.
While Lumumba blames the city council for this fiasco, and vice versa, without a legal contract and funds for reimbursement, nothing will be solved for this garbage dilemma. Even though Richard’s has not been paid for its services, Jackson has still been collecting funds from residents for trash pickup, therefore even though the city has the means necessary to pay the company, it just has not done so.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality said that it will fine the city up to $25,000 per day if trash begins to pile up on the side of the road, which could lead to even more debt and problems for Jackson.
So where do we go from here?
The only logical solution is for Lumumba and the city council to attempt to work together. One entity will have to swallow its pride and abandon its stance on who should cover the city’s sanitation and agree to contract with the alternative.
And this can be done. Just recently, Congress found bipartisanship with several legislative measures such as the Violence Against Women Act and a financial reform act for the United States Postal Service. If Congress can find ways to agree, so can a local government.
Councilman Kenneth Stokes, who had previously been against working with Richard’s Disposal, said Thursday he wants the residents to have their trash to be picked up however it needs to be done, so a solution could come sooner, rather than later for Jackson. We just need to hope for a municipal compromise.
Until then, Jackson residents will have to deal with the pungent odors, filthy streetscapes and old shrimp peelings stored in their freezers.
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