At least one private waste hauler has thrown his collection arrangement with the state-run Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) on the garbage heap, amid reports that two of the four other private contractors that have been engaged by the SSA are likely to follow suit.
However, officials of Williams Liquid and Solid Waste Management and Garbage Masters could not be reached for comment after the head of Simpson Trucking and Skip Services Inc Charles Read confirmed to Barbados TODAY that his company had pulled out of the public-private sector garbage collection plan.
Read explained that tens of thousands of dollars in payment were owed to his company by the SSA.
“We stopped about two months ago. We couldn’t continue cause we haven’t been paid. I have written to them a couple times. Up to just now I was up there [at SSA] getting tipping tickets and no money ain’t there yet, so, I hope it gets resolved soon,” Read said.
Though not ruling out the possibility of ever working with Government again, the private hauler insisted that the outstanding sum must be paid.
“The first step is to get paid . . . and if I go back, we would need to understand what the terms and conditions of going back would be,” he told Barbados TODAY.
He stressed that his company was still willing to assist the SSA, but cautioned that “goodwill only takes you so far”.
“You need some money. It is only simple Maths at the end of the day. When you pay out more than you take in, you would have to make decisions,” he said.
Efforts to get a response from SSA officials were unsuccessful with manager Roslyn Knight currently on leave.
However, Barbados TODAY understands that the SSA has picked up the slack created by the pull out of Simpson Trucking.
It was last October when the deal was announced between Government and a group of five private waste haulers to clear the island of unsightly piles of refuse, amid complaints by the state-agency about a shortage of trucks.
However, the deal has turned sour with the SSA said to be owing the private waste haulers in excess of $1 million.
The arrangement was supposed to be in effect for six months in the first instance with the private contractors hauling in $411 per hour from Government. This triggered loud protests from the National Union of Public Workers, which is the bargaining agent for the SSA workers.
However, the rate was later revised to $300 per hour, VAT inclusive.
During a row with the truckers back in February over the revised fees, Minister of the Environment and Drainage Denis Lowe had suggested that while the programme had been useful in terms of assisting the SSA with waste collection, it might have run its course. He had also explained at the time that the SSA was in a position to sustain between 20 to 24 trucks on the road daily.
However, it is understood that only 11 SSA trucks were on the road today.
In the meantime, Government is still assured of the support of at least one of the contracted haulers.
When contacted today, Managing Director of Jose Y Jose Liquid and Solid Waste Management Inc Anderson Fat Child Cherry said he was prepared to stick with the state agency.
“I don’t think we should [pull out] right now. There are no [SSA] trucks in the island. It becomes a health issue if we stop . . . and I would not like the Minister of the Environment to be embarrassed if we stop,” Cherry told Barbados TODAY, while admitting that he was also owed money.
However, he did not reveal exactly how much.
There has been no word from Michael Forde of Forde’s Freighting and Rental Services.