KeepHealthCare.ORG – MLA: CIG privatising garbage service via back door : Cayman News Service
(CNS): The opposition MLA for Bodden Town West believes that government is attempting to privatise the collection of garbage through the back door. Chris Saunders believes the troubles surrounding the rubbish pick-up and the management of the landfill are directly related to the failure by the ministry to properly staff and resource the Department of Environmental Health. He said the staff shortages have led to government sub-contracting commercial collections to private companies, cutting off a major source of funding for the department, hitting the domestic service.
CNS has found that indications from some government officials that the delays in garbage pick-up are related to mechanical failures in the fleet are also unsubstantiated. Government invested more than US$2 million less than three years ago on a fleet of new residential and commercial garbage trucks, and the Department of Vehicle and Equipment Services has seen no major break-downs or issues relating to the trucks.
DVES Director Richard Simms told CNS Tuesday that there is only one truck out of the fleet of 22 that is currently at their service centre and most of the work they have done over recent months is just tyre replacement, which takes hours, not days or weeks, to deal with.
“I can confirm that we have just one truck and whatever issues there are, it is not about mechanical failure,” he said, noting that the fleet was being well-maintained.
Officials have also confirmed that while DEH Director Roydell Carter is on some form of undefined leave, as undisclosed issues surrounding his future with the department remain in question, Deputy Director Mark Rowlands recently resigned.
Saunders, who said his district is still facing piles of mounting garbage, told CNS that as a result of his efforts to get to the bottom of what is really going on with the collection problems, he believes the freeze on staff and overtime appears to be an unwritten policy move to privatise the rubbish pick-up service almost by default, which could see the public purse paying twice.
“This is the only logical explanation for what is going on,” he said, as he pointed to the reduction in the public sector staff working on the garbage collection while government is contracting private collectors to fill the gaps. “We used to have a twice weekly collection service; now they can’t seem to manage to do every two weeks,” he said, noting, “Only a few years ago we spent millions of dollars on new trucks.”
Saunders said he was not ready to accept garbage piling up on the streets in his constituency and all of the resulting public health issues and he intended to keep up the pressure on government to get the streets cleared.
The ministry with responsibility for environmental health is supposed to be in talks at present with a consortium of local and international garbage contractors, led by Dart’s construction firm, DECCO, which won the recent bid to manage the implementation of the government’s solid waste management plan.
DECCO and its partners are talking with government and CUC over the construction of a waste-to-energy facility and management of the proposed composting and recycling facilities (although there will be no curbside collection of recyclables) and beginning the remediation of the existing landfills.
The tender does not include garbage collection, which according to government was supposed to be left in the hands of the Department of Environmental Health.
Category: environmental health, Health, Politics