The removal of the controversial tipping fee by the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) and new disposal method should result in a drastic reduction in the unsightly heaps of coconut shells left by vendors across the nation’s highways, Barbados Vendors’ Association (BARVEN) spokesman Valentino Barrow said.
And Barrow contends that coconut vendors are now officially out of excuses for not properly disposing of their refuse since the removal of the $25 per ton charge for disposal of shells at the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC), while the Ministry of Agriculture is offering to shred the husk for the vendors – thanks to new equipment.
“We are very happy that the fee has been removed and we are hoping that this will result in a cleaner environment, seeing that you can now utilize that fee to transport the shells to the Ministry [of Agriculture], where they could be converted into material that could used in the farming industry,” said Barrow, who told Barbados TODAY that the abolition of fee represented a major saving for vendors, who would have otherwise been required to pay the fee at least twice per day.
But the vendors’ advocacy group wants time to make its members aware of the alternative to dumping before Government takes a zero tolerance approach to coconut water traders who continue to indiscriminately leave the trash on the roadside.
“We would really like some time to talk to our people first about actions that we think should be taken to preserve the industry. One way to protect is to ensure that protocol is followed. The last thing that we want is for anything like a health issue to result from creating unsanitary conditions,” he said.
In making the announcement this week at the SSA, the authority’s chairman, Senator Rudy Grant, noted that Prime Minister Mia Mottley had stated in her mini-budget last June that the controversial fee would be abolished.
“We are happy that after meetings with our Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod, and the Board, it was agreed to implement the decision as of Monday, December 3, 2018,” said Senator Grant.
“It should make it easier for persons to dispose of waste at the official disposal facility, SBRC, and in doing so, discourage illegal and indiscriminate dumping. It is also expected that this will improve the general health of the nation and help us to maintain and sustain a clean environment,” he continued.
“The removal of the fee will now assist the SSA to redeploy resources that would have been previously allocated to cleaning illegal dumping sites. These resources can now be reallocated to their normal responsibility of collecting household and bulk waste,” he added.
Barrow noted that while he is confident that most coconut vendors will now make a more concerted effort to properly dispose of their shells, there may be a need remove one or two bad apples.
“One thing is for sure, people always find an excuse. Some may be genuine and others may not be but the bottom line is that issue must be stopped at all cost because it really can’t be allowed to continue. We are just saying that we prefer shells to be taken to the Ministry of Agriculture instead of just dumping them to buried. But either way they must be removed from the highway,” he stressed.