Opposition Senator Wilfred Abrahams has called on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to solve a long-standing problem at the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) or appoint of a new Minister of the Environment.
Abrahams says Dr Denis Lowe has failed the Ministry of the Environment and the SSA too often and for too long.
“The time has long since run out for the Minister of the Environment to come clean on the arrangements between the SSA and the private waste haulers with respect to garbage collection in Barbados,” Abrahams said in a statement.
“This arrangement has been shrouded in secrecy from its inception as it relates to actual contractual terms and the duration of the arrangement.”
Back in October last year, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) threw its support behind a decision by the troubled SSA to outsource some of its garbage collection to private waste haulers.
Abrahams told Barbados TODAY then that he was not opposed to the SSA sub-contracting its garbage collection.
“If a calmer and more sensible head has prevailed and the Government is prepared to sub-contract to get what needs to be done, then I can have no fault with that,” the Opposition Senator said, insisting it was more important to have a clean Barbados than playing politics with waste collection.
“I am glad that somebody is finally doing something that benefits Barbados than pursuing purely selfish ends. For months, I have been saying that if the Sanitation Service Authority is not in a position to acquire the trucks, then sub-contract that work so Barbados is kept clean. The health of the citizens and those who live in Barbados [is] far more important than scoring cheap political points,” he said.
But in his statement today, Abrahams said householders should be told of the status of the plan which now seems to be on its deathbed.
He said the SSA has recently been unable to field a full complement of trucks despite assurances from the Minister on countless occasions that new trucks were being ordered.
“The arrangement with the private waste haulers was intended to be a stop gap measure until the new trucks arrived. Despite the constant assurances from the Minister the SSA has not received one new truck in years,” Abrahams said.
“The highly publicised garbage crisis was alleviated through the services of the private haulers but the economics of the arrangement would suggest that it is more cost efficient for the SSA to purchase its own trucks than to indefinitely rent from the private sector which has to be paid. Now not surprisingly this cash-strapped government has once again fallen behind in its obligations. Participating companies are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars such that one has quit the plan with others expected to follow suit.
“The situation stinks as fewer available trucks will mean more rotting garbage on the streets of Barbados,” Abrahams added.
The Shadow Minister of the Environment said the hollow promises of Dr Lowe and his demonstrated inability and incompetence in the stewardship of his ministry should no longer be ignored by the Prime Minister.
“The SSA is too important a department and the environment and its impact on the health of Barbadians too critical for the Russian roulette being played by the Minister,” he said.