The impasse between Government and waste haulers over the imposition of a contentious tipping fee has ended.
A satisfactory settlement was brokered this afternoon following a last-ditch meeting involving senior representatives of the newly-established Waste Haulers Group and Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe, who assured the waste haulers their concerns would soon be addressed.
The fee, which came into effect today, forced haulers to stage protest action outside the privately-run Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre at Vaucluse, St Thomas, where the refuse is delivered.
The operators have argued that the $25 per tonne plus VAT fee, which required truckers to buy tickets from the state-owned Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) for waste delivered to the recycling centre, meant drivers would have to “walk around” with thousands of dollars, thereby placing them at risk of being robbed.
They have also contended that the imposition of the fee had resulted in unfair competition, because the SSA has not been paying the charge for waste delivered to the centre.
Interim chairman of the Waste Haulers Group, Anderson Cherry, told Barbados TODAY member companies were happy with the outcome of the talks.
“The Waste Haulers Group is pretty satisfied with the discussions. The minister has listened to our concerns and
he has agreed to address them. He gave a 30 to 90 day window that they [concerns] would be looked at and logged. We are satisfied. We have agreed to go back to work in the interim as policies are being looked at,” said Cherry, who is managing director of Jose y Jose Liquid and Solid Waste Management Inc.
He also said the haulers would buy the tickets while Minister Lowe reviews the controversial fee.
“So we as haulers would have to put something in place in the interim until the minister gets back to us again. He has given us the assurance he would meet back with us very shortly.”
Cherry said the minister expressed an understanding of the haulers’ concerns and apologized for the manner in which the entire situation occurred. Earlier today when the haulers were protesting outside the waste processing centre, Cherry said there was need to fear a possible health fallout due to a diversion of refuse by those who could not, or would not pay the tipping fee.
“We believe that a lot of illegal dumping may occur; and we believe that a lot of health issues could occur. But we don’t want it to get to that. We want it to be resolved quickly and we want the Government to come together quickly and have this problem resolved today or the latest by tomorrow,” the interim chairman of the Waste Haulers Group had stated.
During the morning hour, it appeared that many independent and small truckers were not aware the tipping fee had gone into force today. Dozens who had arrived
to deliver discarded coconut shells, pallets and other solid waste, were turned back because they had no tickets to show fee payment.
“I does come here with coconut shells all the time and does deliver them and now they asking me to pay fuh dem. Wuh I gine do wid dese now?” an angry small independent truck driver told Barbados TODAY after being refused entry to the recycling centre.