The troubled state-run Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) could be thrown into further chaos, with the entire board of directors having been asked to resign.
Official sources told Barbados TODAY that more than a week ago Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe had demanded the resignation of the entire board, chaired by Margot Harvey.
Neither Lowe nor Harvey would comment on the development, with the chairman referring Barbados TODAY to the minister, who in turn simply refused to discuss the matter.
However, SSA sources said Lowe was apparently unhappy with the performance of the board.
The official sources also suggested that Lowe had not taken the matter to Cabinet, therefore, the board has stayed put, at least for the time being.
One source told Barbados TODAY the SSA was in disarray, and Lowe’s demand was not expected to improve the situation.
This development comes as the authority searches for a manager to replace acting head Roslyn Knight, while mounting financial problems have led to the near collapse of a controversial deal reached with private haulers last October to improve the island’s waste collection.
With the pile up of garbage reaching tipping point, and the SSA unable to put sufficient trucks on the road, Government had reached a deal with five private truckers to clear the garbage.
The arrangement, which was for six months in the first instance, has since been extended.
However, at least one of the five private waste haulers has already pulled out of the arrangement and two of the four remaining private contractors are likely to follow suit.
The head of Simpson Trucking and Skip Services Inc Charles Read earlier confirmed to Barbados TODAY that his company had pulled out of the public-private sector garbage collection plan because the waste collection agency owed his company tens of thousands of dollars in overdue payments.
The deal was also criticized by the National Union of Public Workers, which saw it as a means of privatizing the SSA via the back door.
Social activist and attorney-at-law David Comissiong had also challenged the state agency over the deal, threatening legal action in a letter dated October 22 last year.
“On the face of it, the decision that the Board has made to put this privatization scheme in place is so 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,” Comissiong had written.
“The purpose of this letter therefore is to draw the ugly and outrageous implications of this decision to your attention, and to hereby request that you provide me [and by extension all of the other citizens and taxpayers of Barbados] with a written explanation and justification of this decision, so that we — the citizens and taxpayers — can make our own assessment of your rationalization and determine whether further action [including legal action] is required. I now hereby call upon each of you to do his or her duty as public officials accountable to the people of Barbados, and to provide the said requested written explanation/justification within 14 days of your receipt of this letter,” he said in the letter, which Harvey acknowledged in correspondence dated November 7, 2016.
However, in an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service three months later, Lowe had declared the private waste haulers programme a success.
It was in that interview that he also suggested that while the programme had been useful in terms of assisting the SSA with waste collection, it might have run its course, explaining at the time that the SSA was in a position to sustain between 20 and 24 trucks on the road daily.
However, the programme was extended, albeit at revised fees of $300 per hour, VAT inclusive, down from the previously agreed rate of $350 per hour plus VAT.