Cevons, Puran Brothers seek gov’t intervention to avert city garbage crisis 

Garbage piled up outside Stabroek Market during a previous city garbage collection crisis in 2013. (Stabroek News file photo)

Saying that City Hall cannot manage the municipality’s garbage collection, the city’s two largest disposal contractors yesterday called on central government to intervene to avert a potential crisis.

The call came in wake of an announcement by the two companies, Cevons Waste Management Inc. and Puran Brothers Disposal Inc., of their decision to withdraw their collection services from next Monday due to the failure of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to pay them a total of $160 million for the work they have done since June.

As a contingency plan, the M&CC has said that five small companies have indicated their willingness to work with the city’s solid waste department to manage the situation.

Acting Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe yesterday told a news conference that the companies—Garbage Eaters, Grandison, C&S Garbage collectors, Trash Tech and Tristara—are willing to work on credit.

Asked by Stabroek News if the M&CC was able to clear its debts to small garbage collectors who worked during the 2017 withdrawal of services by Cevons and Puran Brothers, Harry-Munroe responded in the negative. According to her, a total of approximately $25 million is owed to them.

She noted that while the council will be going into further debt, the small contractors that are likely to fill the gap have been made aware of the situation.

Harry-Munroe, however, pointed out that no agreement has been sealed with the companies as yet.

“Should Cevons and Puran Brothers go through with the suspension, these companies are willing to step in…,” she said.

In response, Cevons and Puran Brothers yesterday said their decision to withdraw their services was made only after futile attempts to engage the municipality on the issue of settling its outstanding debts.

“In the process we found City Hall to be decidedly lacking in a sense of urgency. It is as if the administration of City Hall has concluded that it is entirely reasonable to expect us to continue to provide service in the face of its astounding delinquency,” they said in a joint statement.

Presently, they said, they are requesting “immediate and serious engagement” with City Hall toward a “binding agreement” regarding settlement of the amounts owing to them. They are seeking payment of the June and July, 2018 arrears by November 30th, 2018; payment of the August and September, 2018 arrears by December 31st, 2018; and resumption of regular payments as stipulated in their existing contracts on the pay date in February, 2019.

The two companies noted that in the past, City Hall’s resort to less than professional replacement service providers has led to unwholesome consequences. 

“We wish both the Government of Guyana and the citizens to be assured that a great deal of human and physical resources is invested in discharging our responsibility to the capital. In that context we submit that it is both morally and legally wrong to expect that we can continue, over a protracted period of time, to discharge these services without compensation,” they noted.

Additionally, the companies said that to persist in a waste disposal management regime that continues to put the capital at risk on account of City Hall’s “manifest limitations” is both reckless and dangerous.

“Accordingly, and given the critical importance of affording our capital a garbage disposal service that provides assurances of environmental safety, we recommend a measure of stringent government oversight going forward. We need no further evidence that the efficient management of this service is beyond the capability of City Hall at this time,” they said.

“All things considered, we consider it prudent to call on Central Govern-ment once again to actively support the recommended process in order to bring closure to this matter in the shortest possible time and to ensure that the upcoming holiday period is not blighted by unwelcome and unwholesome challenges associated by a sub-standard garbage disposal service,” they added.

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