Government and the Ralph Bizzy Williams-owned Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC) are renegotiating a $24 million contract that will result in a significant slashing of revenue to the garbage collection facility at Vaucluse, St Thomas.
Coming against the backdrop of today’s abolition of the controversial tipping fee which private waste haulers were required to pay for disposing of garbage at the SBRC, Minister of the Environment and Drainage Trevor Prescod told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that a new payment deal was being worked out that would see Government having to pay the company much less for accommodating the national refuse collection effort.
Under the original deal, the Government had contracted the company to collect and process an average 1,000 tons of waste per day and be paid $24 million per year to do the job.
However, both Government officials and Williams conceded that the facility has not been able to honour that as several private haulers and individuals have been illegally dumping the garbage collected from customers because they either could not afford to pay the $25 per ton tipping fee or were refusing to do so.
Arguing that the fee should not have been imposed in the first place, Minister Prescod said however, that its removal will now have implications for the deal between Government and SBRC.
“It has implications for the wide agreement with SBRC. The Government is also putting additional fees in place that we could at least end up paying a reasonable amount to SBRC for doing what they are supposed to do. The Government is negotiating with many of the people in the business sector and in many cases members of the business sector will be making major sacrifices on some of the charges which they had before,” Prescod said.
“I can’t tell you what will be the final position, but we will be paying a lot less [to SBRC] than what we used to pay with the removal of the tipping fee.” he added. He could not say how much had been collected since the imposition of the fee in May 2015.
Pressed to specify if SBRC would be losing revenue as a result, the Environment and Drainage Minister said he would prefer to use the words “making sacrifices” instead.
“I believe that all discussions between those who negotiate on behalf of the state and SBRC…I believe these things are conducted in good faith. And the important thing is that whatever final decisions are made are for the common good of the society itself. If anything I would prefer to say that it is a sacrifice…they have given up some of that lucrative margin,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that it was prudent and correct to remove the tipping fee.
When asked if the savings from the scrapping of the tipping fee should be passed onto to consumers who hire haulers to collect and dispose of their waste,” Minister Prescod said he wanted to get the word out that they no longer have to pay it.
“The consumers don’t have to pay it now. We will try to get the message out as much as possible, so that those persons who send waste to the landfill, will know that there is no need to include a tipping fee in whatever they are paying for the transporting of the waste which is a major reduction in the total cost,” he stated.
For his part, the SBRC boss made it clear that he was fully onboard with the Government in its removal of the tipping fee, even though it would mean a reduction in the initial contract value for the collection and processing of the garbage.
Williams confirmed that a new deal was being negotiated that would be in keeping with the Government’s cost-cutting programme.
He admitted that while a final figure has not yet been arrived at, he and his company would work with the Government in the interest of the country as a whole.
“It isn’t going to affect SBRC in any significant way. The Government is trying to reduce cost on everything and we have been trying to cooperate as much as we possibly can without going bankrupt,” the chairman of Williams Industries told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
The outspoken Williams also stressed that he was happy from an environmental health perspective that the tipping fee has been removed.
“We are delighted to see it removed because all of the garbage that has been dumped in all the gullies, cartroads and wherever else, should now come back to the garbage centre where it should have been coming all along. So the island will gradually get cleaned up. The Sanitation Services Authority (SSA) will no longer have to spend money cleaning up illegally-dumped garbage. So it is a win-win for all concerned,” he contended.
The prominent businessman reasoned that the state-owned SSA was spending more money cleaning up illegally-dumped garbage than it was collecting the tipping fee. Williams said he was not in a position to say how much money had so far been raked in from the fee.
“We are very happy to once again be able to supply a proper disposal service for the island,” he insisted.