The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has moved to obtain a third legal opinion on the status of its five-year contracts with the two major garbage contractors, Puran Brothers Disposal Inc and Cevons Waste Management.
At a press briefing on Monday hosted by Mayor Ubraj Narine, Deputy Mayor Alfred Mentore and acting Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe, it was revealed that they were awaiting the opinion of a third attorney. This was pointed out after Harry-Munroe indicated that they are stilling awaiting an interpretation from the Attorney General’s Cham-bers. The council had requested a second opinion from the Attorney General’s Chambers after its lawyer Roger Yearwood, in December, advised that the two companies were in breach of their contracts after they chose to suspend their services in the previous month.
With the M&CC owing the garbage contractors in excess of $160 million for services provided since June, the contractors in November argued that they were unable to continue to operate and withdrew their services.
Yearwood, however, said that their contracts make no provision for suspension of services.
It was disclosed on Monday that the M&CC is looking to resolve the issue given the time that has passed.
After a meeting last Wednesday with Puran Brothers and Cevons, Narine said the companies indicated their willingness to renegotiate their current contracts. However, no decision was taken and the parties, he explained, agreed to meet within the next week.
“We are working to resolve this issue. We want everything to be a smooth transaction. This week is packed already but if we can squeeze them in, we will do that. If not, we will meet early in the following week,” Narine said, before indicating that he hopes for a resolution before the expiry of the current arrangement between the M&CC and several small contractors.
Pressed on if a decision is not made by the time of the expiration of the arrangement with the small contractors, the mayor said they will look at the possibility of advertising short-term contracts. This suggestion, however, will have to be discussed by the full council before it can be implemented by the city’s administration.
Additionally, Harry-Munroe disclosed that the council has seen a reduction in spending on waste disposal. While figures on the reduction were not shared, she said that they have been able to keep up with payments to the contractors.
Narine added that they have replaced the garbage compactors at the East La Penitence Market and at the Albouystown Market with skids owned by the council. The move, he pointed out, saves the council $90,000 monthly and it will be looking to replace or possibly renegotiate the rental fee of the compactors at the Stabroek and Bourda markets to further reduce expenditure.
Further, Narine said the M&CC has been working to reduce the spending on waste disposal but it remains a challenge as persons keep dumping in areas where they are not supposed to do so.
“We are in a cycle. We cannot divert our money to other projects because citizens keep dumping garbage in spaces they were not supposed to and we have to keep cleaning it. We are operating in a cycle and if we continue we cannot move forward,” Narine lamented.
As a result, he called on residents to desist from such practices and work with the council. “You can come to us and if you know an area needs a garbage bin, we will see how we can place one there. We don’t have the money but we can see how can work with the private sector and get one,” he stressed.