Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe today admitted that private garbage collectors had grounds to protest the controversial $25 tipping fee, while assuring that his ministry was closer to finding a solution to the matter.
Speaking to the media following a tour and ceremony to mark Environment Week at the West Terrace Primary School, Lowe reiterated that the fee, which caused concerned haulers to stage a one-week strike following its May 4 implementation, was being reviewed.
The private waste haulers have been demanding that the fee be scrapped on the grounds that its implementation was unfair and had threatened the survival of their businesses. The protest was halted on May 18 after Lowe held a five-hour meeting between the Waste Movers and Waste Haulers Group at his Warrens, St Michael office.
According to Lowe, the more than 150 waste haulers had agreed to present their business profiles to the Ministry for review in order for some of the facilities they requested to be implemented. He said this process was currently being conducted.
“We are making great progress and I am sure that when we convene again that they are going to be very pleasantly surprised.
“I had a conversation very recently with one of the waste haulers, Mr Anderson Cherry, and he did indicate that some of them are going to be travelling over the next week or two. I did ask him when everybody is going to be able [to meet] that we can have the meeting set,” Lowe explained.
Just over a week ago, while the private haulers and movers had been anticipating a compromise on the fee, the Ministry of Environment and Drainage, through a Government Information Service (GIS) release, issued a reminder that the charge for disposal of waste at the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre remained in place.
The Minister also explained that payments could be made at the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) by purchasing a full book of tickets at any given time, or a single ticket for those dumping less than one tonne of waste.
“They have expressed some concerns about the part thereof and I believe that they have argued successfully that it would have to be considered on a platform of equity if I take 1.1 tonnes of this and yet have to pay for two tonnes.
“Most of the waste haulers have small vehicles and they sometimes don’t make a tonne. We have looked at that very carefully and I think that we have worked out a formula that could be beneficial to everybody,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, when contacted, spokesperson for the private haulers Charles Read told Barbados TODAY that while he heard the Minister’s update in the news today, members were still awaiting an official update from the Ministry.
Read said in the interim, as a show of good intent, the haulers had put all their trucks back to work, but he insisted that the protest had only been put on pause, to allow the Ministry to conduct its review.