More than a week after Barbados TODAY broke news that Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe had demanded the resignation of the entire board of the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA), Lowe is yet to clear the air on the matter.
However, shadow Minister of the Environment Wilfred Abrahams today attempted to turn up the pressure on Lowe not only to issue an explanation, but also to step down from his position of environment minister, saying it was clear to him from all that had transpired so far that Lowe had acted on his own advice and without the approval of Cabinet in calling on the Margot Harvey-led SSA board to step down.
Abrahams also accused Lowe of using the members of the board as “scapegoats” instead of acknowledging his own complete failure in his ministry, after SSA sources had told Barbados TODAY earlier this month that the minister was apparently unhappy with their performance and as such had demanded that their instruments be put at his disposal.
“This minister has presided over the implosion of the SSA and it is time for him to go. A new board and the same minister will yield the same result,” Abrahams said, while cautioning that “the last thing that the country needs right now is disruption and uncertainty at the [level of the board] of the SSA, which is one of the most important departments of Government.
“Barbados is in the middle of the most active hurricane season in recent memory with constant flood watches being issued by the Government services, yet once again garbage is piling up in the streets and most of Barbados, including our drains and waterways overgrown,” the Opposition spokesman said.
“In addition to this the tenuous arrangement between the SSA and the private waste haulers to bail out the SSA appears to be collapsing with one hauler already pulling out of the arrangement and others being owed hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he added.
After reaching a deal with private haulers last October to improve the island’s waste collection, the SSA continues to face significant operational issues with reports that only about a dozen SSA trucks are currently operational, which is well below the suggested minimum of 35 trucks per day.
Today Abrahams also reported that all four of the SSA’s skip loaders were presently off the road and that “Government now has zero capacity to service the skip operations of the SSA”.
“Lowe is the minister ultimately responsible for this catastrophe and no amount of distraction and deflection changes this,” Abrahams warned, while accusing Lowe of starving the authority of critical resources and undermining the efficacy of the SSA.
He also said “it appeared that the authority was being set up to fail with the intent of facilitating privatization of the waste management services by stealth.
“This situation is unfolding entirely as predicted [but] what the SSA needs now to function effectively is simple, a full complement of trucks, adequate equipment and staff and a new minister,” Abrahams suggested.