Yesterday, for yet another day, the fires at the Beetham dump, which have been burning since Sunday, disrupted normal day-to-day activities in the city. Contrary to the assurances offered by the Solid Waste Management Company the previous day, some of the 12 fires apparently flared up again and emitted new clouds of choking smoke. By yesterday morning they had blown through the city as far north and west as the Savannah and the Mucurapo Foreshore.
As a result, city businesses continued to take a beating: many establishments had to close to protect the health of employees. At others, whose doors remained open, staff had to leave work to collect their children, as schools in Port-of-Spain had to send home students affected by the still smouldering fires. The—possibly toxic—fumes also affected people with asthma and bronchitis, some of whom had to seek medical treatment.
Whether or not these fires were set deliberately, these infernos at the Beetham landfill site are becoming more frequent and larger and having more deleterious effects on business, health and now the education of children. There has been much talk over many years from successive governments and governmental agencies about moving the dump, which is located far too close in the heart of the city and adjacent to communities such as Barataria, Laventille, Sea Lots and of course Beetham Gardens.