Operators and haulers in the solid waste disposal business are calling on the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) to reverse the proposed $25 tipping fee.
The new fee, which was delayed by one month, will go into effect on May 1, and will be applied to every tonne of waste or part thereof disposed at the Williams Industries-owned Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC) in Vaucluse, St Thomas.
During a consultation with key stakeholders at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last night, garbage haulers said the tax was unreasonable and unfair and should be revisited.
“Most of us here have skip businesses that compete with the SSA and if you are not paying the fee, then that is unfair competition,” said Dave Hinds of Hinds Transport.
“We have haulers here whose cash flow will be significantly impacted on a weekly basis. We have people who deliver probably upwards of 50 skips a day to the landfill, so their cash flow is going to be impacted somewhere between $1,400 per day for the people with the smaller businesses, going up to about $4,000 and $5,000 a day for the bigger collectors.”
Hinds insisted the fee was not clearly thought through.
“I think that this whole system where you are saying that this is it, this is the way, the only way, I think that needs to be revisited because I cannot see myself and a lot of these other businesses giving their truck drivers $5,000 a day in tickets to operate,” he added.
Another operator of a freighting business questioned how the fee would affect their customers.
“You charging a $25 tipping fee and I clearing land for this gentleman and another gentleman, how can I pass this on to the lady or the gentleman that I moving the stuff for? . . . What do I do, carry the bill first and then go? How do I work it out?”
SSA engineer Leona Deane suggested there may be a need to change the way business is done in the sector.
“Because if you are looking to pass the cost on to the customer, you do not want to, in effect, rob yourself of the tipping fee. This is a fundamental shift in the way that we have been doing business. Therefore, you have to adjust your businesses to suit,” she said.
Another member of the audience was not satisfied with the consultation process and asked whether there was any hope of the fee being overturned.
“Is this a process where you are going to consult, and where you are prepared to take into account what we say and revisit some of the decisions that you have already made . . . [or] are all these decisions already cast in stone? Is this an exercise which can result in change?” he questioned.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage Edison Alleyne insisted that the refuse haulers’ cooperation in the matter was important.
“Without your cooperation this system is not going to work . . . Currently the SBRC costs the Government something like $21 million. Out of that, 66 per cent is being taken from the private sector and that cost has to be tackled, and that is why the tipping fee has to be introduced in order to help pay for the cost of the disposal of this garbage,” he explained.
Shawn Philips, who has direct responsibility for the disposal of the garbage at the SSA, also told the gathering that the fee was necessary.
“Over the years there has been a continuous increase of the amount of waste being disposed at our disposal facilities and to ensure that we provide you with the facilities to address the sustainable management of waste disposal, the transfer station SBRC came into being,” he said.
“We have long seen the benefits of it . . . Now it’s time that we work together and appreciate those. With the implementation of the tipping fee, this will assist with the continued management and operation of our facilities at Mangrove pond landfill.”
Project Manager in the ministry’s Project Management and Coordinating Unit Ricardo Marshall added: “When we are talking about a tipping fee, that does not specifically come in and start with the SBRC but what has certainly happened is that the cost of managing waste has gone up with the introduction of SBRC into the group of players.”