Puran Brothers Waste Disposal Inc and Cevons Waste Management Inc, the two largest waste disposal contractors, have fully resumed operations in the city.
Director of Solid Waste Management Walter Narine explained at Monday’s statutory city council meeting that the contractors resumed operations last Friday under the terms of their 2015 contracts.
Town Clerk Royston King also announced that the resumption followed payments of $175,820,280 to Puran Brothers and $205,596,924 to Cevons by central government. It also follows a commitment from the city to pay the contractors on time in 2018.
According to Kaleshwar Puran, General Manager for Puran Brothers, his company is working on “good faith” though it has not yet been fully paid what it is owed. “We have resumed work as per normal. We are working on good faith, hoping that things work out for the Mayor and City Council,” he said, while noting that his company celebrated 30 years of existence in 2017 and he and his brother have been working with the city council for longer than that.
“We are hoping that they can honour their financial commitments to us in a timely manner,” he stressed. He explained that though central government has paid them on paper, they were still waiting for some of the funds to be cleared.
Last August, Puran Brothers and Cevons announced plans to suspend their services over the city’s failure to honour its financial obligations to them. At the time, they were owed in excess of $300 million and declared that they could not afford to continue to provide the services. In response, City Hall said it viewed their action as a termination of their contracts, based on the fact that there was no provision in their respective agreements for the suspension of services.
Three other contractors were employed to perform waste disposal services, while the city also deployed its own garbage trucks to assist in clearing the commercial district. This arrangement proved unsatisfactory and the city approached central government through the Ministry of Communities for a bailout of $475,635,245 to settle its longstanding debt.
Not only did central government agree to the bailout but it also negotiated an arrangement with the contractors which saw the companies being reengaged for waste collection and disposal in the city up to December 31st, 2017.
At the end of this period, the contractors again indicated their intention to withdraw services unless City Hall withdrew the termination letters issued to them last August and committed to on-time payments in the future. Both of these conditions have since been met.
Works under $200M city restoration approved
Meanwhile, central government has once again allocated monies for the restoration of the capital this year. Georgetown is to receive a $200 million subvention in addition to the $24 million approved under the Fiscal Transfers Act.
King told the statutory meeting that according to a letter from Permanent Secretary of the Communities Ministry Emile McGarrell, the National Assembly in December approved the $200 million funding for the Georgetown Restoration Programme.
He noted that the letter also indicated that the work plan for the expenditure of the funds has been approved.
The work plan includes spending in three areas: Community Enhancement, Infrastructure Develop-ment and Institutional Strengthening.
The Community Enhancement Programme, which has been branded the City Environmental Enhancement Programme (CEEPro) has been allocated $50 million. Under Infrastructure Development, $74 million has been approved for two projects: the upgrade of the East Ruimveldt Market at a cost of $24 million and the completion of the reconstruction of the Kitty Market at a cost of $50 million. (A $25 million contract has already been awarded to BML Construction Services as a form of assistance from central government to the Georgetown municipality to complete parts of this phase. King explained that this contract will be signed by all three parties at City Hall sometime next week.)
Meanwhile, the remaining $76 million has been approved for Institutional Strengthening, which includes the purchase of a tractor at a cost of $7 million, the purchase of a skip trailer for $3 million and the purchase of two garbage trucks at a cost of $66 million dollars.
Central government has stipulated that the purchase of this machinery will be completed through public tender to be advertised by the ministry and awarded through the National Procurement and Tender and Administration Board. The city will provide the various specifications for the contract.
King added that McGarrell noted in his letter to council that though the sums have been approved, there is an expectation of savings, which will be converted to the CEEPro.
Additionally, the ministry has indicated its readiness to release the $24 million fiscal transfer subvention, which has been earmarked for constituency councillors to utilise for community projects.