Outspoken social activist and attorney-at-law David Comissiong has given the board of the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) a 14-day ultimatum to justify its approval of the new waste collection plan, which involves the use of private waste haulers.
In a strongly worded letter addressed to board chairman Margot Harvey, Comissiong warned that he was prepared to contemplate a judicial review of the decision before the Supreme Court as provided for under Sections 3 and 4 of the Administrative Justice Act, Chapter 109B of the Laws of Barbados, if the board failed to respond.
The plan, which came into effect on October 12, was devised during a high-level meeting between the 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.
It is expected to run for six months initially with the haulers agreeing in principle to service four parishes – St Philip, St Peter, St Lucy and St John – at a rate of $411 per hour for eight hours a day, Monday to Friday.
Comissiong has described the decision as “financially outrageous” and so detrimental to the financial interests of both the SSA and the citizens and taxpayers of Barbados that it appears to constitute an “unreasonable or irregular or improper exercise of discretion” and/or “a breach of or omission to perform a duty.”
He explained that the hiring of eight compactor trucks at a rental fee of $411 per hour per truck, over a six-month period far exceeded the cost of a truck and was therefore ill conceived.
“Why should the Sanitation Service Authority Board be saddling the SSA (and by extension the taxpayers of Barbados) with payments to private businessmen of $427,440 per truck per half-year (or $854,880 per truck per year), when the board could have purchased the said truck for a one-time cost of some $250,000, and end up being the owner of the truck rather than a mere renter with no ownership rights
He also contended that the arrangement would jeopardize the livelihoods of SSA employees.
“…It means that several truck drivers who are members of the staff of the SSA will have no trucks to drive (and therefore no duties to perform) but will still be entitled to receive payment of their full salary from the SSA?”
The new waste plan has also not gone down well with the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), which warned that it could result in large-scale retrenchment at the SSA and also hit consumers in the pocket.