Government is slowly delivering on a promise to kickstart a new and improved garbage collection system by adding two of seven Japanese-made garbage trucks to its aging fleet, amid several setbacks.
Late Wednesday night and into the wee hours of Thursday morning, a large contingent from the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) led by Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod and SSA chairman Rudy Grant invited journalists to witness the first shipment of Mitsubishi Refuse Compactor Vehicles (RCV’s) arrive at the Bridgetown Port after midnight.
Ministry and sanitation officials were keen to head off further complaints and photos of post-holiday pile-ups of garbage in neighborhoods across the country, owing to inconsistent pickups.
Environment Minister Prescod told reporters: “We decided to come here as soon as the ship arrived to make sure that everything was in order.
“I promised the Barbadian public that they would see a radical transformation of all that is happening at the sanitation department and promise Barbadians the best of service that you can expect from the SSA.”
He also revealed that the shipment of the two trucks, each costing over $600,000, was frought with unforeseen issues that prevented them from being delivered by the end of December as originally promised.
“[Importers Simpson Motors] indicated that there were a number of challenges… between the exporters and manufacturers in Japan and the transshipment to the United States of America,” said Prescod. “There were some problems in relation to tariff arrangements between Japan and the United States of America and these caused a lot of challenges and in some cases a delay, because the trucks had to go to the US in order to be retrofitted… but I believe that all reasonable human beings can appreciate that within the short space of time, we have been able to deliver the first two trucks.”
Government was working expeditiously to have the two trucks registered and on the road after inspections by Simpson Motors and the SSA, the minister added.
But they are still five more trucks to come, which Prescod said Government will be squarely focused on getting here.
The environment minister told journalists: “This is your new year’s present. This is the beginning of things to happen…. We are going to do a number of innovative things.”
Government is also to distribute several new bins across the island to aid the Ministry’s new waste management thrust, he said.
He also promised that Barbadians would see real returns from the recently implemented Garbage and Sewage Contribution Levy.
“We did all that we could to make sure that we put ourselves in a healthy position by asking the taxpayers to contribute to their water bill in the form of a levy and that money is going to be used for the general development of the sanitation department,” said Prescod
SSA chairman Grant, while giving assurances that the authority will move hastily to address the urgent need for clean streets and improved garbage collection across the island, pleaded with Barbadians to be patient.
“We want to give you the commitment that the SSA will be working diligently to ensure that we facilitate the mandate that we have with respect to the cleaning of our streets, with respect to the collection of our garbage and these two vehicles are going to help us in a tremendous way.
“We want to ask the public of Barbados to be patient with us. We give you the commitment that we are going to facilitate even further trucks coming in. you would recognize there are tenders. The tenders will in fact close on fourth of January for additional equipment and our commitment is to ensure that we are able to facilitate an enhancement of the trucks that we have,” he said.