Government is preparing a report on the restructuring of the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) as it seeks to address the issue of garbage disposal on the island, Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe has said.
Dr Lowe told reporters today that preliminary assessments conducted by South Korean officials in collaboration with the SSA pointed to some waste management challenges for the island.
“Barbados is not the same Barbados as it was 50 years ago, particularly . . . when the SSA was started, and there has been no change, no tweaking of the old system.
“I can tell you that we are beginning now the final stages of preparing a report to Cabinet for the full-scale restructuring of the Sanitation Service Authority, impacting every area of service, delivery and administration,” the minister said.
According to him, the SSA commands an annual budget of close to $80 million to keep Barbados clean, which is exclusively borne by the State. Lowe was therefore adamant that Government must seek creative ways of addressing the issue of garbage disposal.
He said environmental health officials were also looking to outfit existing vehicles with tracking device to “manage where they are, the pace at which they work and whether or not they were delivering full service every day.
“We’re also looking at the cost of vehicles,” said Lowe, who pointed out that “right now a Sanitation Services Authority compactor truck is costing the SSA $400,000.
“What that means is it is an investment whose return is only in the maintenance of a clean society. It is not in cash returns.”
The issue of illegal disposal of garbage has been a major bugbear for environmental health officials in recent weeks, with the department clamping down on the unsightly practice.
The minister admitted that the situation amounted to a major challenge for his ministry.
“The people who do most littering in Barbados are not waste haulers, they are very ordinary citizens like you and I,” he told reporters.
In response to ongoing concerns surrounding Government’s implementation of a $25 tipping fee for waste disposal, Lowe admitted that the matter was yet not settled.
In fact, he said the ministries of finance and environment have been working on a revised strategy that would call for implementation of a fee that is governed by the “polluter pays principle.
“What that means is that everyone who creates garbage should be made to pay for its disposal and management. It’s the fairest way to approach it. And what that will do is remove the exclusive burden of a tipping fee from waste haulers to ensuring that everyone who creates garbage pays,” he said.
He noted that garbage management was a multi-billion dollar sector, adding that “the truth of the matter is that it is now catching up on the island”.