Government is now actively considering the leasing of garbage trucks to replenish the badly depleted fleet at the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA), Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod has told Barbados TODAY.
The revelation comes as an original plan to buy 15 used garbage trucks was reduced to two trucks now held up in the United States because of tariff issues with Japan amid mounting piles of uncollected garbage across the island.
“We are looking at leasing trucks because we have a backlog of garbage, abandoned cars have not been moved off the road for the last ten years, and we recently started that programme in Brittons Hill. The problem that we continue to have is access to trucks. We had lots of challenges with the importation of trucks but as far as I know the trucks are on the way but we still have not receive the documentation. So although we have great hope, we cannot rely on hope alone,” said Prescod.
On average, the SSA is operating with 12 trucks a day, all of which are over a decade old. On most days there are more work crews than trucks to operate. The SSA has also decided not to renew its programme of outsourcing collection to private waste haulers programme.
“From the feedback coming from my chairman [Senator Rudy Grant] the idea of additional private waste haulers has been completely pushed off the table. Many days we have workers that can’t work because there are no vehicles. So the situation is complex. If this problem is not resolved soon every morning I wake up people are going to be showing garbage pile-ups all over the island, ” said Prescod.
But Prescod noted that the idea of leasing trucks was still in its exploratory stage as cost effectiveness details as well as maintenance logistics must first be worked out.
“The idea of leasing trucks is all part of the negotiations because at the end of the day the decision is not dependent on Government alone. The people we are talking to and the unions all have to agree. We have to consider the charges for the trucks as well as who will be responsible for maintaining the trucks. We would also like to get the unions on board because they all partners in this exercise and at the end of the day it is about the people. There is no top down decision being made, certainly not under me as Minister,” Prescod stressed.
In the June 11 Mini-Budget, Prime Minister Mottley announced plans to buy used trucks. The 15 used trucks were to 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 said then.
But in August, 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 vehicle importer’s representative.