Minister of Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe says the garbage collection problems experienced by residents across the island have been brought under control, but has insisted the pile-ups are not unusual at this time of year.
At the same time, he has assured that the process of making the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) more efficient is in train, with his ministry preparing to take to Cabinet a new organizational structure for the statutory board.
Addressing the media on the issue today at the Savannah Hotel, he explained that the recent delay in waste collection across the island was usual during the months of July, August, November and December because of an increase in activities that cause a build up of waste.
He said during July this year, the SSA collected in excess of 1,000 tonnes more waste than the norm for that month and made 168 more trips to the landfill than usual.
Lowe said Barbadians should be considerate considering that SSA was operating in stringent economic times and the authority had to manage its resources carefully to keep up with sanitation services around the country.
“I think we all recognize that this year Crop Over was much more active than it has been in the past couple years and, as a result, there was a substantial buildup of waste throughout the country. This is expected and I am not sure why it was not remembered by the public. Every year this happens and it stretches the resources of the authority, which has been running on a decreased number of functioning vehicles over the last few years. What we have done is to deploy some additional vehicles and we are satisfied that that is working and we have also deployed some skips in those hotspots where there tends to be a lot of waste,” he said.
The minister said another issue that affected the collection of waste was that, with the onset of the rainy season, householders were cutting their lawns, clipping hedges, bagging the grass and putting them out on the sidewalks for the SSA trucks to pickup.
“Ordinarily we would do it, but when you find a place where there are 11-plus bags in addition to the regular household waste the trucks would get filled quickly and they will not be able to complete their routes and that would also have an impact on speedy collection and complete collection of waste around the country,” he explained.
Lowe said he understood the impact that poor sanitation has on health and tourism and assured that the 40-year-old SSA was in line for organizational and operational reform.
“We have submitted a proposal to Cabinet to do the reform and the Cabinet has asked us to come back with the organizational structure and we should be going back to Cabinet pretty shortly with that information,” he said.
“We have to look at our mechanical operations. It is a tradition that the Government provides a certain amount of resources for us to do outsourcing and we will be doing more outsourcing to get our vehicles up and running,” the environment minister added.