Effective September 1, the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) will be charging businesses monthly fees for the collection of commercial and industrial waste as it seeks to subsidise its $50 million per month garbage disposal bill.
Additionally, the M&CC also announced yesterday that it will be charging private garbage collectors that haul commercial and industrial waste through the city a percentage of the cost charged on businesses.
The announcements were made by Town Clerk Royston King in a statement issued on behalf of the M&CC and in which he noted that the decision was taken after extensive consultations with members of the private sector, non-governmental organisations and community-based groups.
The statement from King said businesses will fall under three categories, small, medium and large, which would be billed $5,000, $8,000 and $12,000 per month, respectively.
It said too that special arrangements will be put in place for private contractors “to compensate citizens” by paying a percentage of the cost charge against businesses.
Justifying the need for the introduction of the fees, King said the council must spend in excess of $50 million per month to dispose of the city’s waste. He also highlighted that over the last three years, the collection and disposal of 2,232,235 tonnes of waste was done at a cost of $1.4 billion, while for this year $1.2 billion has been budgeted for waste collection.
The introduction of the fees was first announced in March of this year by the Director of Solid Waste Management, Walter Narine. He had explained that almost $1 million is spent per week to collect garbage from the commercial sector and businesses should be paying for the service. “They are producing a lot of plastics, Styrofoam and other waste material on a daily basis. When you compare their usage to residential [usage], it’s a higher volume and it is not fair to residents,” he noted.
On August 4, the two largest private garbage disposal companies, Cevons Waste Management Inc and Puran Brothers Disposal Inc, suspended their operations to protest the M&CC’s continued failure to honour its financial obligations to them. The companies are owed over $300 million in total for work dating back to 2015.
In a letter published in yesterday’s edition of Stabroek News, King said that the council’s average monthly collection of rates is between $78 million and $80 million, from which in excess of $50 million is used for solid waste management per month.
He further said that the reality is that the council cannot hire contractors it cannot afford. “It is true that the council’s present budget cannot sustain these substantial payments to all of its contractors,” he added, while noting that nevertheless the council has to rethink the way it organises its work and its approach to providing quality services to all local neighbourhoods.
In light of it no longer having the services of Cevons and Puran Brothers, the city and three small garbage disposal companies have assumed the responsibility for garbage collection. However, since the introduction of the new system residents and businesses have only be receiving clearance of garbage once per week, with the exception of the commercial zone which is cleared daily, while garbage continues to pile up along city streets despite the efforts of the collectors.
Meanwhile, King’s statement also said that over the next two weeks the M&CC would be deploying patrols armed with cameras and other things to persuade litter bugs to desist from hurting the environment and to contribute to the sustainable development of the city. “Also, the council will be moving apace to seek the support of the competent authorities to introduce the ticketing system against litter and the indiscriminate dumping of garbage in the City of Georgetown,” it added.