Two of this island’s leading businessmen, along with the state-run Sanitation Service Authority (SSA), today responded to claims made by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Shadow Minister of the Environment, Wilfred Abrahams, that 15 new compactor garbage trucks had been imported into the island as part of further privatization of the island’s garbage disposal, saying count them out of the development.
This, as one outspoken private waste hauler bitterly complained about the reported development, telling Barbados TODAY it was the final nail in the coffin that would only serve to drive the “black man” out of waste hauling business.
In recent weeks there has been renewed talk of privatizing some of the services offered by the state-run SSA. Barbados TODAY understands that one of the “deals” under contemplation was another Public Private Sector (PPP) partnership, similar to that which exists with the Bizzy Williams-owned Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre at Vaucluse, St Thomas. The new agreement would have seen to the divestment of the mechanical workshop at the SSA, which has been plagued in recent months with broken down trucks that have rendered the state agency incapable of adequately meeting the island’s waste disposal requirements.
However, to date, Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe, who is responsible for the SSA, has been mum on any such plans, even though he did reveal earlier this month that a new waste disposal fee was in the works to replace the controversial $25 garbage-tipping fee that was implemented last year. Lowe told reporters that the new charge would be more along the lines of the “polluter pays principle”, and would ensure that those responsible for creating the garbage pays the price.
Details are yet to be announced.
In the meantime, businessman Anderson Fat Child Cherry, who has run into several obstacles with a number of projects, including his Project Recycle, which was ordered shut by the Town & Country Planning Department last year in the absence of planning permission, feels he is being cut out of the entire waste disposal mix.
“I am saddened and upset at how this country is going. It is very difficult for a black man to operate in this country. I don’t see anywhere, outside of myself, that much more black people in my age group can survive,” said Cherry, who had previously offered his five trucks to Government to assist with national waste disposal.
Today Cherry, who is the owner of Jose Y Jose Liquid and Solid Waste Management Inc. complained that even though he had gotten down on his knees and literally “begged” the Minister of the Environment to “please hire my trucks”, the minister had chosen to look elsewhere.
“I am out of work, I have no money. I can’t pay my bills. And now 15 trucks are in the port to put me and all the black businessmen out of business and put hundreds of workers of the Sanitation Service Authority out of work. I think it is wrong, wrong, wrong,” the outspoken waste hauler said.
“We know who the trucks belong to. One of the big conglomerates in Barbados. It is known,” said Cherry, without initially calling any business by name.
However, when pressed by Barbados TODAY to do so, he said, “check with [Mark] Maloney or Jada”.
Barbados TODAY did just as advised.
However, the owner of The Jada Group of Companies, Bjorn Bjerkhamn, who is in the waste hauling business, along with Maloney, who is currently caught up in a public fight with the Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins over the construction of a Spring Garden base for his Rock Hard Cement, both said they were not responsible for bringing in any compactor trucks in through the Bridgetown Port.
The General Manager of the Sanitation Service Authority Roslyn Knight also said while tenders had been issued by the statutory corporation for the purchase of new trucks for the SSA, there were definitely not on island yet.
In fact, the SSA is yet to approve any such purchase order.
Repeated calls to Lowe’s cellular phone today went unanswered and while interim chairman of the Waste Haulers Association Charles Read said he had heard about the trucks, when he checked, nobody seemed to know who owned them.
It was the Opposition spokesman Abrahams who first let the cat out of the bag on Sunday as he addressed a political meeting of his Christ Church East constituency branch, saying 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,” Abrahams, who is an attorney, told the meeting.
“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,” Abrahams told party supporters.
Today, an irate Cherry complained that he cannot get any contracts in Barbados and he said he would be parking his five trucks on his site in Warrens, St Michael tomorrow and putting up a “for rent” sign, offering his services at a low price.