The urban garbage disposal pantomime

We have been, as far as circumstances allow, deliberately monitoring the impact of the latest bout of jousting between City Hall and its two principal garbage disposal contractors  if only because, first, we are aware of the particular vulnerabilities of the municipality in the wake of the revelations of the Report of the Kennard Commission of Inquiry. What the pronouncements of Justice Kennard have done (particularly those that have to do with the beleaguered Town Clerk) is to reinforce what had already been a generally negative public impression of the management competencies at City Hall.

The other reason for this newspaper’s concern has to do with the coincidence between the COI and the fallout therefrom and the circumstances in which the City finds itself insofar as its business arrangements with Cevons and Puran’s are concerned.

The fact is – and we draw our conclusion from discourses with the two service providers –  that there appears to be an ongoing unravelling of the long-term contractual arrangements between City Hall and the two companies. Our reading of the situation (and we believe that our interpretation is supported by the events of the past few weeks) is that City Hall has decided that it is no longer able to endure the uncertainties associated with not being able to meet what, truth be told, is a hefty garbage disposal bill and the attendant uncertainties and work stoppages that have occurred. Its solution (whether it is either fair or workable is another matter) or at least so it seems, would appear to be heading in the direction of setting aside the extant contracts with Cevons and Puran’s and brining in other players. It is, as City Hall appears to see it, a matter of breaking an uncomfortable monopoly. Both Cevons and Puran’s regard it as a breach of contract and the word is that they are taking the matter to court.

Our primary concern here has to do with the implications of all this for solid waste disposal in the capital and by extension for what we know to be the priority which government says it places on ‘greening’ the capital. As of the past two weeks or so the evidence has been unfolding that the garbage situation is becoming decidedly ‘dodgy’ insofar as garbage pileups and what would appear to be the indiscriminate dumping of garbage is concerned. This week, the looming garbage crisis was manifesting itself primarily in areas downtown and in the residential areas of south Georgetown.

 The facts as we see them are as clear as day. Whatever the extant arrangements for urban solid waste disposal in the wake of the differences between City Hall and its two biggest contractors, those arrangements are manifestly not working. Part of the problem, we submit, might well have to do with the magnitude of the task that urban garbage disposal has become in the wake of the aforementioned differences. The other issue may well be the sheer magnitude of the garbage disposal challenge facing a team which, we are told, includes quite a few ‘new recruits’ to this type of work.

 All of this does not even begin to embrace the compelling distractions confronting the municipality itself as manifested in the constricting outcomes of a Commission of Inquiry that has hung its Civil Service out to dry and left it unable to function as it really should. Anyone who has been following, as we have, the to-ing and fro-ing between the two big solid waste disposal companies over many weeks on matters to do with contracts et al will be under no illusions about the ‘silly season’ that appears to have imposed itself upon proceedings as the political players on the Council seek to have their own say regarding who gets what as far as the ‘pieces’ of the garbage disposal ‘action’ are concerned.

 As things stand, it is our opinion that the weighty matter of urban garbage disposal is far too important to be left solely to the machinations of a City Hall that is patently at odds with itself. And if it is hardly surprising that those who may well have axes to grind in this matter may frown on what they loosely describe as ‘government intervention’, we need remind ourselves that the state of the capital is a matter of national importance and that if, as seems to be the case at this time, City Hall is wholly incapable of delivering an effective urban waste disposal regime, then, even if temporarily, we must bite the bullet and move to put in place an alternative arrangement that is more assuring than what persists up until now. 

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