An arrangement struck in October 2016 between the state controlled waste management company and private haulers for garbage collection and disposal seems set to continue for some time yet under the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration.
While in opposition, the BLP’s spokesman on health, Dwight Sutherland, had described the deal as a scheme to privatize of the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) through the back door, a position that was shared by the National Union of Public Workers.
However, the new man in charge of the SSA, Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod, today said he was not yet in a position to decide on the future of the arrangement, even after having met yesterday with senior officials of the garbage collection agency.
“I had a meeting with them yesterday evening and I am still analyzing the material from the discussion. The present state . . . [is that] we don’t have enough trucks at present to carry out the service and I have to take into consideration that we need to build that service back up to a level where it is adequate,” Prescod told Barbados TODAY.
He emphasized the desperate need for additional garbage trucks, revealing that he intended to request those vehicles sometime soon.
Prescod said it was only after the various pieces required for efficient service are put in place would he decide the fate of the private truckers’ programme.
“I don’t know exactly all the terms and conditions attached to the arrangement with the private haulers. Those details I am still trying to get straightened out,” he said.
The minister revealed little about yesterday’s talks, but he said they discussed a number of issues, including the contentious tipping fee introduced in 2015 as a way of recoupng money for waste disposal.
“They will bring me up to date with all the details in relation to the removal of the tipping fee. In fact, we looked at the tipping fee, we looked at the private haulers, we looked at the availability of trucks. I will discuss that matter with the administration within the ministry and I will come to a conclusion thereafter,” Prescod told Barbados TODAY.
However, he made it clear the Mia Mottley-led Government had no plans to privatize waste collection, while repeating the ministry’s intention to increase the fleet of garbage trucks in order to adequately service the island.
Another major issue was the reported rental of a tractor at $23,000 a week for use at the Mangrove Pond landfill.
Prescod hinted at a desire to terminate the contract, but he said a decision would be made after he receives additional information.
“The amount of rent being paid for use of the tractor which is $125,000 a month and to look at that in comparison to what the actual cost of a tractor is, from my rough calculation, in two years’ time the rent itself would actually purchase a tractor. I don’t see that making sense. I can’t take any position on that as yet until I get the terms and conditions attached to any agreement which they had,” he stressed.
Prescod assured Barbadians he would not wait for people to call and complain about garbage pile-ups, but would instead move swiftly to take the necessary action to resolve some of the refuse collection issues.
“We will . . . make sure that additional finance is put at that department’s [SSA] disposal so that they can have a complete order which would be able to provide the kind of service required at present,” the minister said.
Already, the island’s private waste haulers have declared their intention to present fresh proposals to the new administration to help improve the collection of garbage and the management of solid waste here.
Without going into details of the proposals, Chairman of the Waste Haulers Association Anderson Fat Child Cherry said this morning the four companies which currently have contracts with the SSA were ready and willing to present new ideas to Prescod.
Cherry told Barbados TODAY the existing collection deal which covers St Philip, St John, St Peter and St Lucy ends in November, and he anticipated an extension.
“We will continue to put proposals to assist with the waste collection. There are a lot of things that we can produce to help reduce the actual collection costs. We are entrepreneurs, so we will constantly seek ways of looking for new ideas,” Cherry, the chief executive officer of Project Recycle and Jose Y Jose Liquid and Solid Waste Management Company, said.
“We are still collecting . . . we are still doing our duty . . . we placed ourselves at the disposal of the new Government and we are willing to extend, to continue to work,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“The waste haulers have proven themselves to be very efficient and we are serving all of our routes without fail. And I think the residents in St Philip and all of the other areas are very satisfied and they can testify to that,” Cherry stated.
A similar position was adopted by Charles Read, the head of Simpson Trucking and Skip Services, who told Barbados TODAY the private waste haulers were willing to partner with Government to improve garbage collection
“We will see what this Government will be proposing in terms of policies to deal with solid waste management in Barbados,” Read said this afternoon.
“The understanding is that they [SSA] has trucks on order. So I imagine when those trucks arrive, they would reassess what their needs are,” Read added.
It was on Sunday during the swearing-in of her new Cabinet on Bay Street, that Mottley reiterated a manifesto pledge to acquire new trucks immediately for the SSA, which had struck the deal with the private waste haulers due to a shortage of vehicles.
In recent weeks, residents in some communities have been complaining about limited garbage collection, and mountains of refuse.