With the pile up of garbage reaching the tipping point, the state-run agency responsible for waste collection here and private waste haulers have agreed a scheme to improve the island’s waste collection.
The plan was devised during a high-level meeting today between the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) and representatives of private haulers, comprising the interim head of the Waste Haulers Association of Barbados Charles Read; owner of Jose Y Jose Liquid and Solid Waste Management Inc Anderson Fat Child Cherry, and top executives from Garbage Master, Williams Liquid & Solid Waste Management Inc and Forde’s Trucking, sources with intimate knowledge of the proposal told Barbados TODAY this evening.
According to the sources, the SSA’s decision to outsource some of its garbage collection to the private haulers stems from a directive issued by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to the SSA to meet with the haulers and to come up with a plan.
Today’s development came as the waste collection agency struggles to put sufficient garbage trucks on the road and in the wake of a controversial tipping fee on the private truckers, which has been blamed for an explosion of illegal dumping around the island.
While no agreement has yet been signed, the plan proposes a six-month contract during which skip, compactor and lorry loader services would be provided by the private haulers to complement the SSA’s existing fleet of trucks and enhance its collection programme.
Barbados TODAY has been informed that the haulers have agreed in principle to service four parishes – St Philip, St Peter, St Lucy and St John – and be paid a fee of $411 per hour for eight hours a day, three days a week, at a cost of approximately $1 million to the SSA.
It is proposed that the haulers would bill the state garbage collector every week, but would be paid every two weeks.
However, this has not gone down well with workers who are questioning the rationale behind paying the haulers by the hour rather than by the trip, according to sources familiar with the workers’ complaints.
The workers are also questioning where Government would find money to pay private concessionaires at a time when it could not provide employees with long-awaited uniforms or a pay rise and are said to be contemplating industrial action. However, it is understood that the SSA will be meeting shortly with the workers’ bargaining unit to discuss this latest proposal.
Meanwhile, one waste hauler who requested anonymity told Barbados TODAY it was unlikely the plan agreed today would be implemented anytime soon.
He explained that a lot of work still had to be done, including reconfiguring some compactors, informing the residents of the communities to be serviced and having the funding approved by the Ministry of Finance.
He also revealed that today’s meeting was the third of its kind.
Government announced last year that it would impose a tipping fee of $25 per tonne plus VAT on the haulers and movers, leading to a work stoppage.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler subsequently announced that the tipping
fee would instead be levied at $40 per load for all categories of waste, including municipal solid waste, rock, soil, construction and demolition waste, green waste and coconuts.
However, the fee remained a vexing issue for the truckers, with many contending it had led to illegal dumping and unsightly scenes at various points across the island.
At the same time, there has been renewed talk of privatizing some of the services offered by the state-run SSA, including divestment of the mechanical workshop, 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.
Recent worrying pile ups of waste across the island had also led to at least one private sector entity –– the Anderson Cherry led Jose y Jose –– offering its equipment to Government for rental to assist with garbage collection, even as Cherry joined with Opposition Barbados Labour Party Senator Wilfred Abrahams in alleging the 15 new compactor garbage trucks had recently been imported into the island as part of plans to divest aspects of the SSA’s business.