Government has ordered an immediate review of the $411 per hour rate for private waste haulers who have been assisting the state-run Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) since last October with its national garbage collection.
However, Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe today denied that his ministry had already gone ahead and unilaterally implemented a reduced rate of $300 per hour, following an outcry by the private waste haulers themselves who have accused the SSA of unilaterally cutting their pay.
The matter has been the subject of a recent bitter exchange of letters between the truckers, the SSA and Lowe himself in which the haulers complained that their fees were cut without their consent.
Barbados TODAY has been privy to several pieces of correspondence, including one in which the private haulers expressed their horror at being told that some of them would be paid less than what had been agreed at talks last October on a deal to improve the island’s waste collection.
In the correspondence dated December 22, 2016 and titled, Meeting to retroactively change the rate of three of the five private waste haulers contracted to provide garbage removal services, Managing Director of Williams Liquid & Solid Waste Management Inc Troy Williams claimed that the truckers, who have been engaged by Government for a six month trial programme, complained that they were summoned to a meeting at the SSA that same afternoon and were instructed by SSA General Manager Roslyn Knight to change their rate to $300 per hour, VAT inclusive, and not the previously agreed rate of $350 per hour plus VAT, “which we humbly declined”.
But in a statement released today through the Barbados Government Information Service Lowe said at the request of the Ministry of Finance for an immediate review of the programme, “I have called for a review of the hourly $411 rate and the introduction of a minimum rate requirement”.
However, he cautioned that no final decision had been taken on the matter, saying the details of new rate were still being worked out.
Lowe also suggested that while the programme had been useful in terms of assisting the SSA with waste collection, it may have run its course.
He explained that the SSA was currently in a position to sustain between 20 to 24 trucks on the road daily.
“Once that level is maintained at the end of the six months, it can be anticipated that some adjustments will be made to the waste haulers programme with the private sector,” he said, adding that the SSA also intended to introduce a number of SSA-operated skips to reduce the number currently being rented and operated by the private sector.
“Though there are some areas of concern, I must hasten to point out that this arrangement has made a contribution to the authority being able to effectively manage the collection and disposal of waste throughout the island,” he added.
Currently, the private haulers are being used to service the parishes of St Lucy, St Peter, St Philip and St John.
However, Lowe confirmed reports that one of the haulers –– Anderson Fat Child Cherry –– had been pulled from the St John route, which is once again being serviced by the SSA.
“The Authority has been around for many, many years, and we are now seeking to have some re-organization of the system with a view to addressing some of its operational needs,” the minister said, adding that despite the challenges, SSA staff continued to deliver “yeomen service to the country”.