EDITORIAL: Garbage collection a priority
Whilst Government cannot give a definitive time frame on when the much-needed garbage trucks will be arriving on the island, it goes without saying that Barbadians are anxious to know when they will come, given the huge garbage pileups in the country and the fight to keep the rodent population at bay.
Minister of Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod, is on record as stating that garbage trucks in the United States are currently being retrofitted and will be shipped soon.
He went on to state, “People are asking me to be decisive, but I can’t be decisive ... but I am telling you, within a reasonable time, you will see those trucks. I can tell you at present that we have one truck in the Harbour and some equipment as well, and hopefully we will be able to get out what we have there in a short period of time. I will also tell you that we are going to work on as quickly as possible to add additional import for four trucks, because I am trying to get the fleet back up and certified.”
He also indicated that between now and next week, a number of skips, which are being repaired and built by young men and women at Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds, will soon be available and placed in strategic areas around the island to assist with garbage collection. This comes as Barbadians have been calling for better garbage collection services in their communities and amidst contentions by workers of the Sanitation Service Authority about weekend shifts, which has seen the unions getting involved.
Now we are hearing the Minister say that job hands, including ex-prison inmates and persons who are managing their psychiatric challenges well, will likely be used by the Sanitation Service Authority, in a bid to address a shortage of sanitation workers.
Prescod, in a statement of clarity, said: “Government is committed to providing employment opportunities for traditionally marginalised groups, including ex-prisoners and persons who are successfully managing their psychiatric challenges.”
“As Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, I am firm in the position that given the periodic shortages of labour at the Sanitation Service Authority, suitable persons from among these groups can find employment there as job hands, driving and loading compactor trucks,” he added.
He is further on record as stating that, “While we have made significant progress with the addition of seven new refuse compactor trucks, with an order already placed for 12 more, and a vigorous repair and maintenance programme for the aged fleet that has to date cost more than one million dollars, significant challenges remain. One of the greatest of these challenges has been the constant availability of personnel to operate the fleet. This has been in spite of the fact that while we have been able to raise the number of trucks on the road today to 21, up from 12 when we took over the Government, we are still well below the daily requirement.”
Whatever the issues to be ironed out, it is clear that solutions must come quick, otherwise we could have a public health crisis on our hands with the amount of garbage pileups that we are seeing. Whether it is ordering more trucks, or finding more hands, we need to see some action soon so we can clear our waste and have a healthier environment.