Barbadians, who utilize private waste collection companies for disposal of their garbage, could soon be paying more for these services from April 1.
However, members of the Private Waste Haulers Association say they are not the source of the increase.
They are putting the blame squarely on the state-run Sanitation Service Authority’s (SSA), which they say has formally written to them informing that a $25 tipping fee will be applied to every tonne of garbage, starting next month.
The decision has angered members of the association, who say they cannot afford to absorb the increase and have really been left with no other choice by the SSA than to pass it on to customers.
“We are struggling as it is to keep our heads above water,” said Anderson Cherry of Jose Y Jose Liquid and Solid Waste.
“There is not a lot of money in the garbage [and] now look at this, they wiping us out,” he added.
The fee will charged on all waste material deposited for processing at the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre Inc (SBRC), Vaucluse, St Thomas, which is operated by businessman Ralph “Bizzy” Williams.
So far, the haulers have been notified by letter that the fees would have to be pre-paid and that they would be issued with tickets by the Authority that were redeemable at points of entry.
Unhappy about the development, which they say is “rubbish”, members of the association are demanding an urgent meeting with officials of the SSA to discuss the situation.
Cherry said the haulers would now be forced to restructure their payment systems with customers to cover the additional working capital requirement.
He also warned that customer costs may escalate by more than $25, since “we have to hire people to police the tickets.
“It is going to be a high cost to customers and I really want to fight on behalf of the customers who doing renovations and cleaning up your house for Christmas,” Cherry said.
“I don’t think you all understand how much money that we are talking about in terms of the waste that is generated in this country,” he added.
Cherry further pointed out that the SSA had recently suffered from significant breakdowns of trucks, which he blamed on the high volume of waste on the road that needed to be converted into tonnage.
Norbert Jordan of Garbage Gobblers shared Cherry’s concerns about the fee. He also indicated that a meeting with stakeholders was long overdue.
“They haven’t met with us and we are hopefully looking for that meeting. We need to have that meeting as soon as possible,” Jordan said.
Meanwhile, Cherry also argued that if the haulers had to absorb the cost of the fee they would be forced to close their doors. He accused Government of “shutting down waste haulers”.
However, when contacted today, a senior Government official, with intimate knowledge of the SSA situation, pointed out that the tipping fee had been on the cards for nearly two decades.
The official also said it was due for implementation since last year but was deferred as Government moved ahead with implementation of the Municipal Solid Waste Tax (MSWT).
While pointing out that the MSWT revenue does not go directly into the SSA’s operations, the official also said the SSA’s budget had been reduced in this year’s Estimates, forcing it to move ahead with the introduction of the fee.
Another official pointed out that in the past the haulers were allowed to utilize the Government waste facility free of cost while the SSA absorbed nearly $70 per tonne in processing costs to SBRC, which is owed $35 million by Government.