By year-end, private garbage contractors Cevons and Puran Brothers are expected to be paid some $300 million owed to them by City Hall for work dating back to 2015, according to the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), which also announced that special fees would be introduced for the collection of commercial and industrial waste from next month.
“All monies owed to our partners will be paid before the end of this year, 2017,” Town Clerk Royston King said in an M&CC statement on Wednesday.
The statement also cited several reasons for the M&CC’s inability to honour its obligations to the companies, including the fact that the council has not conducted any valuation of properties in over 20 years.
Last week, the companies had given notice of their intention to suspend their services, owing to the failure of the council to service its debts to them. However, by way of letter, they were both informed by King that their actions were viewed as the “termination” of their contracts based on the fact that there was no provision in their respective agreements for the suspension of services.
In his letter, King said that, “recent actions…to withdraw garbage collection services (from 7th July to 11th July 2017) and the intended action to do so with effect from the 6th August, 2017 is viewed by the council as a termination of the current contract, since there is no provision within the current contract between the Mayor and City Council and your corporation for the suspension of garbage collection services.”
Moreover, the letter directed that the collectors, “should not return to fulfill the contractual obligation of garbage collection until and unless the matter is resolved in its entirety.”
Afterward, the M&CC along with three small contractors commenced garbage collection services in the city on Monday. While residential areas will be cleared once weekly, businesses will receive clearance once daily, the council has said.
On Tuesday, however, Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, in contrast to the letter sent to the companies, said that City Hall had not scrapped the contracts but had only indicated to the contractors that they were in breach by withdrawing their services.
On Wednesday, on the heels of a joint appeal by both companies to the private sector, the George-town Chamber of Com-merce and Industry (GCCI) in a statement said that the council’s stance that the withdrawal of the two contractors is to be seen as a termination of contract is viewed by the chamber as unwarranted “and the council not acting in good faith by taking this step. This is in the backdrop that the chamber recognizes that non-payment or untimely payments to these contractors for acceptable services rendered to the M&CC is a fundamental breach of contract….”
Meanwhile, the M&CC statement said the council will be introducing fees on commercial and industrial waste beginning Septem-ber 1.
“There were consultations with businesses and other stakeholders and it was agreed that commercial and industrial waste should attract special fees,” it said.
Additionally, with four garbage trucks at its disposal, the council also announced that it will be boosting the Solid Waste Department so that efforts can be made to dispose of at least 60% of the city’s waste by the end of the year. “Technical teams and mechanics will be retrained to service and maintain trucks with new technologies,” the council said.
In an invited comment, Solid Waste Director Walter Narine explained that the council will need an additional four or five trucks and he added that with two additional shifts per day, the council will be able to manage all of the garbage from Agricola to Cummings Lodge.
In an effort to target litter bugs, the council also said that it will be re-establishing a special anti-litter squad “armed with cameras to give special attention to litter bugs, who are bent on littering and disrupting the aesthetics of the city and hurting the natural environment.”
A ticketing system is also on the cards to allow those persons who litter to pay fines directly to the council. “This will give the council two benefits, providing much needed money to enforce litter and related laws and it will serve as a deterrent to those who intend to hurt the city,” the statement added.