Thwarted in their attempt to bring in cheaper garbage trucks, sanitation officials are still working to source the extra vehicles from Britain – but they will cost the taxpayer a little extra.
The trucks are to be orderd within six to eight weeks of being initially announced by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in her June 11 mini budget – albeit at a “minor additional cost”, said Minister of Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod.
The 15 used trucks would come at a cost of about $15 million, as the delivery time for new trucks would be around eight months and Barbados could not wait that long, the Prime Minister had said then.
But a week ago Mottley told a St Michael South East constituency meeting that she ordered a group of Government officials sent to Europe to source the vehicles to return to Barbados after they reported the mysterious, simultaneous, appearance of a private sector firm’s representative.
Barbados TODAY later revealed that Courtesy Garage was the company whose representative had shown up in Europe.
Plans to source more than two dozen second-hand garbage trucks was still on the table, said the minister in an impromptu interview during the Down to Brasstacks radio talkshow today, ahead of a tour of the site of the old Fairchild Street market.
He could not give an indication as to when the used trucks would arrive in Barbados as a result of the “unconventional things” that resulted in the recall of the officials on a UK trip, but said Government was “hoping that we are working within the same schedule.
“As a consequence of what has transpired, the reality because there are cloudy areas, we have to wait until the clouds are cleared,” said Prescod figuratively.
The buyers team of SSA chairman Jeffrey Headley and two technical staff members had examined the trucks at the three locations they visited and had already “sent forward reports on the experience up there,” he added.
“They saw enough. The reality is that in arranging the trip, it was not Barbados to St Lucia, Barbados to St Vincent. So you had some extra time which would have been there. So although the mission was cut short the reality is that the department did what it had to do,” he said.
Without giving any estimate, the Minister for the Environment said Government was likely to incur “minor additional cost” as a consequence of cutting the trip shorter than expected.
Explaining that the country was in “a bad situation” when it came to the shortage of garbage trucks, Prescod said only about 16 trucks were functioning at times “but on a regular basis sometimes those numbers drop down to about four or five”.
He said ahead of the additional trucks arriving, the SSA was also taking steps to improve their efficiency.
“What we have also been doing is rather than having one shift or so, sometimes two or three shifts, and you will probably see garbage trucks out on Saturdays and Sundays and bank holidays. Sometimes when a situation becomes extremely intense and excessive amount of garbage accumulate in some areas we have a special service that will go out to that location and clear it,” he explained.
He said the decision to explore the trucks in the UK was based on the experts’ opinion, adding that they also did cursory checks in other markets.
“They felt that the English market was the best market. We obviously looked at China, we looked at Japan, we looked at Brazil [and] we looked the United States of America. We didn’t exclude anybody,” said Prescod.
Explaining that the Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC) that was introduced at a rate of $1.50 per day for households and 50 per cent of the water bill for companies on August 1, would help finance the SSA and the Barbados Water Authority, Prescod assured that “proper checks and balances” would be in place.
“We are going to be very prudent and I don’t want you to judge us based on what you have experienced within the last 10 or 11 years in Barbados. You can rest assured that we have designed a progressive programme as a political party and I believe that we also have competent persons,” he said. (MM)