Opposition Shadow Minister of the Environment Wilfred Abrahams believes the recent Cahill fiasco should have been enough to break the back of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), which he has accused of deceiving the people of Barbados with respect to its planned construction of the ill-fated, multi-million dollar plasma gasification plant.
However, addressing a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) political meeting in the Christ Church East constituency which is represented in Parliament by Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe, Senator Abrahams lamented that Government had been allowed to live to face another day, even as he warned that the Cahill issue was far from dead.
“All of you in here are still ignorant as to exactly what was signed in the first place. There is no way that any Government should be able to do that and still be in Government,” the Opposition spokesman said.
“The DLP Government should be glad that this is Barbados and not Jamaica . . . or Trinidad . . . or somewhere in the Far East because this Government would have fallen,” Abrahams charged.
While revealing that he had acted as lawyer for groups opposed to the construction of the waste-to-energy plant, he further cautioned that Government would have to fork out a “substantial sum” in penalties for breaching its agreement with the Guernsey-based energy firm with which, he said, there was a “done deal” which called for Government to provide all the water food stock and garbage needed for plasma gasification.
Abrahams also said Government had ensured that the necessary legislation had been passed in both Houses of parliament for the acquisition of lands at Vaucluse, St Thomas for the project, for which he contended the country could not meet the garbage requirement and would therefore have had to import waste.
“The Minister needs to say what is the Government of Barbados’ exposure, and as a consequence, yours and my exposure as taxpayers, for breaching this Cahill contract,” Abrahams, who is the BLP’s candidate for Christ Church East, told the gathering of some of his constituents.
“They [Government] went recklessly, irresponsibly, selfishly, under the cover of darkness and entered an agreement that they refused to accept, up to the time the minister said they were no longer going ahead with it . . . that there was an agreement, and he confessed that to say he was not going ahead with it,” he added.
However, he suggested that the entire matter came to a head back in March after the abandonment of a similar project in Teesside, North East England. The reasons cited by Air Products for pulling out of the $2 billion waste-to-energy project were “operational challenges” and “technical difficulties in making the technology work”.
“All of that time, despite objections he [Lowe] was still saying Cahill still has to start and we are going ahead with it,” Abrahams acknowledged.
During his address which focused on waste disposal matters, Abrahams also claimed that 15 new compactor trucks had recently arrived on the island that were not purchased for the state-run Sanitation Service Authority (SSA).
“If my info is wrong, tell me so,” he said, as he again challenged Lowe to account to the country.
While warning the minister that he could not hide all the time, Abrahams said the current secrecy surrounding the island’s waste disposal arrangements not only “stinks” but both looks and smells bad.
“If 15 trucks did indeed land in Barbados, then that suggests something to me, because if the Sanitation does not own them, it means somebody is investing in a big way with the anticipation of private garbage collection.
“That would explain why the Sanitation has not purchased the trucks that everybody knows it needs and that the minister knew and acknowledged that it needed up to last year before he changed his tune and talked about investigation and fitness of purpose and whatever.”