Private waste haulers and movers have issued a clear the air statement in response to recent charges leveled against them by Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe.
Charging that the controversial $25 tipping fee has not been implemented across the board and that commercial haulers employed by the state-run Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) has been exempted from making these payments, they have also called on Government to suspend the controversial $25 tipping fee until a workable solution can be reached.
The group, which is headed into Day 5 of protests against the fee, also informed that, in a show of good faith, members were prepared to remove waste from critical areas, such as the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital, as well as other emergency services.
However, they made it clear that they could not guarantee that there would not be any disruption of these essential services “for no more than three days”.
“Our intention is to raise the profile of the plight we are facing and heighten awareness within the broader public domain,” the statement said.
“We are not employing a combative approach and it is unfortunate that a request to meet and discuss an issue of survival of small businesses is labeled as intimidation, bullying or holding the country to ransom,” the group said in response to the statements made yesterday by Lowe.
The group also sought to highlight decisions reached at a May 4 meeting with the Minister of the Environment, at which they sought to address concerns related to the implementation of the tipping fee.
The key decisions reached were confirmed by the group in a letter, dated May 5, 2015, which was hand delivered to Lowe and copied to Permanent Secretary Edison Alleyne.
Today, a copy of the letter was sent to Barbados TODAY.
In it, assurance was given that a post implementation review of the tipping fee would be conducted and corrective actions taken during the first 30 days after implementation.
Against this background, the group said it was unfortunate that the Minister was claiming that they had breached a 90-day agreement made with him.
From the letter, the group said it was also clear that other requirements had to be put in place immediately by the Ministry to facilitate the recovery of the tipping fee, which they are required to pay in advance of dumping material at the Barbados Sustainable Recycling Centre.
“It is clear therefore that our seeking a meeting within that 30 day period is not a breach,” the haulers emphasized today.
Their statement further explained that, “A few days after our meeting with the Minister, the Waste Movers Group, a much larger group representing over 50 truckers, landscapers, and freighters, met with us to explain their challenges.
“What became evident to us, the impact to their sector was significantly more dire, and in need of serious support and immediate action. Their sector is under threat of immediate closure; in the majority of cases they have been unable to work because of this fee,” the release added.
Meanwhile, in their May 5 letter to the Minister, the Waste Haulers had also expressed concern that the Government-run Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) was not required to pay a tipping fee.
“We consider this an unfair business practice that places the business of the Waste Haulers Group under threat.
We need a clear communication from your Ministry, to ensure that everyone is paying fairly. Without this, we will lobby the support of the Fair Trading Commission, to review this as an unfair business practice,” the private operators said in their letter.
The group also called for the SSA to exit the commercial collection business and allow the private sector to take