In an SN letter of Jan 6 on solid waste disposal in Georgetown, Mr Royston King, Mayor and City Council (MCC) Public Relations Officer, expressed the view that increasing the number of garbage collection vehicles in the already crowded city streets and setting up a collection/holding centre were viable options to solve the solid waste disposal problems of Georgetown (‘The city needs a transfer station to manage solid waste’). These pronouncements were given credence when the M&CC at its recent statutory meeting granted Cevon Waste Management Company (CWMC) a portion of land on Mandela Avenue to establish a garbage collection/holding centre. No information was given as to whether the land was leased for a fee or was free, and whether CWMC will be providing a pro bono service or charge a fee for drop-offs of garbage at its collection centre and if so, how these charges will be assessed and levied. Further, the citizenry would wish to be informed if the city will have to pay CWMC to haul the garbage from its holding centre to pre-determined sites and if so, how these costs will be determined. It is hoped that the M&CC will be transparent in its deliberation on these concerns and citizens will be fully informed about the complexity of the novel methods of garbage collection and disposal that the M&CC is getting them into.
Mr King claims that over the last few days eight of the city’s garbage trucks were out of service for want of repairs. These are custom-built vehicles requiring trained technicians to service them which M&CC does not have, and as Mr King noted, its so-called technical team is still groping to identify the problems before spares could be ordered and repairs carried out. Further, requisition for spares requires a long lead time with payment upfront. Therefore, it is unlikely that M&CC will get these vehicles operational any time soon because of the daunting challenge and financial strictures it faces.
In the circumstances and to prevent further haemorrhaging of its scarce resources, the M&CC would be well advised to get out of the garbage collection business – the sooner the better, since a cost analysis of garbage collection by the city will show that it is not financially viable for the M&CC to undertake such works at this time.
To confirm this point of view, the City Engineer should prepare a spreadsheet for the M&CC to show comparative costing (city vs private hauliers) for garbage collection. Puran Bros have been collecting garbage in the area where I live for the past several years and they have done a good job (when paid by the city). I have no doubt that the services of private garbage collectors would be competitively priced, given the competition.
A weak and corrupt administration and with the M&CC in disarray, band-aid solutions as proposed will not solve the city’s garbage problems. Topping-up the city’s treasury for garbage collection and disposal would be a step in the right direction, but without a comprehensive and enforceable plan in place, putting money in the city’s coffers for this purpose will be tantamount to pouring money down a ‘sink hole.’ To start with, the cultural attitude of the citizenry has to change with the full understanding that their behaviour with respect to polluting the environment through their irresponsible garbage disposal is hurting us all. Existing laws should be enforced with stiff penalties for those who continue to break them including those who buy packaged food and drinks and scatter after use the containers with scraps all over the place.