Yet another case of illegal dumping has left the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) hopping mad and questioning Barbadians’ love for their country.
A vermin-infested pile of coconut shells was Friday afternoon removed from the bus stop near the former Banks Breweries headquarters in Wildey, St Michael.
An upset SSA Public Relations Officer Carl Padmore complained an SSA truck had to be taken off its regular route to pick up 36 bags of rotting shells, which had already attracted rats and mosquitoes.
“We had to pull an open back vehicle and a crew off from servicing a community that needs it to deal with this. If we continue to do this daily, what would happen is that a community would suffer. This is just one of many illegal acts of dumping that happens across Barbados and we are saying, guys that this is going to put a strain on our manpower. So work with us so that we can better serve you,” Padmore pleaded.
He said the level illegal of dumping had become untenable, and those engaged in the practice were endangering the health and safety of workers and the general public.
“This [the 36 bags of shells] is collected from one vendor. Now imagine that we have well, 20 coconut vendors operating in Barbados. From this one vendor we encountered centipedes; we encountered rats running from here, which means that our workers are exposed now to these things. Even beyond our workers we have households, which means that vermin and insects can go into these houses,” he said.
Earlier this week SSA General Manager Roslyn Knight expressed frustration at repeated indiscriminate and illegal dumping after a concerned resident of Vaucluse, St Thomas contacted Barbados TODAY regarding garbage, including coconut shells and old appliances, he had found in Vaucluse and Dukes, St Thomas.
Knight said illegal dumping was condoned culturally here. However, the sight of coconut shells, used tyres, the skeletal remains of butchered animals, burnt plastic bottles, rubble from construction sites, withered shrubs and discarded barrels has become more frequent since Government introduced a controversial tipping fee of $25 per tonne in mid-2015, which waste haulers have blamed for the growing problem.
Friday, Padmore accused coconut vendors of trying to dodge the fee by resorting to illegal dumping despite the high profitability of the coconut water business.
“Your first two bottles of coconut water is equivalent to your tipping fee. Go get the tipping fee and get it transported to our landfill . . . . Once you see sites like this we have to wonder if we love our country. Frankly, we have to say that a lot of people don’t,” the SSA spokesman said.
Padmore also slammed haulers, some of whom he said were being paid by vendors to take their waste to the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre, but who unscrupulously dispose of the shells at illegal dump sites.
“The guys [vendors] are saying to us that they are transporting the shells to the landfill. However every truck that goes through the landfill we know the license plate and we know the tonnage and we are not seeing the equivalent of what we see out here on the roads in at the transfer station. This means that they are diverting it someplace else such as pastures, gullies and waterways.”
The SSA has in the past lamented its powerlessness to prosecute offenders, explaining that the powers of prosecuting lay with the Ministry of Health, which last year ordered a coconut vendor, along with a number of illegal dumpers, to clear his mess after he was found disposing his waste in Bucks, St Thomas.
In any event, Padmore Friday suggested the waste management agency was reluctant to prosecute vendors, preferring instead to educate those involved.
“We believe in education because we want them to make a living. Once they have all the permissions to set up call in the Ministry of Health and the SSA and we can tell you the proper way to dispose of what you have. We don’t want to put anyone out of work. Education has to be first. However, the second step would be enforcement and we may have to do that; but we don’t want to make that as a first step,” Padmore stressed.