The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) of Georgetown continues to battle with garbage in the capital city as negotiations with contractors Puran Bros Disposal and Cevon’s Waste Management stall, since the contractors are adamant that they must be paid before they resume providing their services.
The garbage disposal contractors suspended their services on Friday last following City Hall’s inability to pay them over $300 million owed since 2016. Mayor Patricia Chase-Green said the municipality was in a crisis and as such, they would be approaching Central Government for assistance.
However, the municipality is yet to approach Central Government, specifically Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, for a bailout.
City Hall has been unable to make steady payments to the contractors and as such, they entered an agreement, which mandates it to make the $45 million monthly payment by the end of the first week of each new month. However, they were unable to honour that agreement forcing the contractors to withdraw their services until a solution is agreed upon.
At Monday’s statutory meeting, Georgetown Mayor Chase-Green informed the Councillors that alternative measures put in place to combat the garbage issue were proving to be effective.
Town Clerk, Royston King, in a released statement had said that “in the meantime, the administration of council will employ all of its resources using an inter-departmental approach to keep the city clean. A schedule of new collection arrangement and advisories will be published in the local media shortly.”
Moreover, he had said that “the council will also call on its loyal friends with the appropriate resources to help to secure the integrity of the general environment of the City of Georgetown.”
According to Mayor Chase-Green “a team would have met with those contractors and talks broke down somewhere along the line and they have called me and agreed that we should continue the talks, and I hoping that this afternoon (Monday) or tomorrow (today) we can meet with them on the way forward,” she said.
The Mayor informed that A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Councillor Ron Persaud had submitted a proposal identifying the way forward in tackling the garbage situation in the city.
“We have to look at owning our own trucks and finding ways and means of dealing with this garbage situation once again,” Chase Green lamented.
In 2010 and 2011, under the Hamilton Green Administration, City Hall procured four compactor trucks to the tune of $20 million in order to address the garbage issue. However, those trucks were defective and barely operated. It is unclear what happened to those trucks, since they were constantly in the repair shop.
In 2013, the Local Government and Regional Development Ministry handed over a brand new garbage truck and two matching compactors to the M&CC. The vehicle and machines were purchased with funds through the 2012 subvention from the Ministry and the total cost was $34 million. It is also unclear what happened to that truck and the compactors.
For quite a while now, the M&CC has been accused of being cash-strapped, and on multiple occasions, works around the city had to be halted, since the municipality was unable to pay workers. The M&CC, at its November 14, 2016 statutory meeting, indicated that the Council would approach Central Government, more so the Communities Minister, for a $600 million bailout be provided to assist in the payment of outstanding debt and salaries.
However, the Minister refused to help City Hall.
The Council said that it would be putting alternative measures in place for garbage collection and urged residents to ensure they properly dispose of their waste and await the arrival of the garbage collectors. They also said that the Treasurer’s Department would be intensifying its revenue collection drive to recover monies owed to the city.
At a meeting, with stakeholders, in April of 2017, the Mayor had informed that the Council was cash-strapped and requested businesses pay more for commercial waste disposal. Mayor Chase Green had told the business community that City Hall could not afford to keep up with the weekly amount of $1.8 million to clear commercial waste.
Although there have been talks of the implementation of a new fee for commercial waste, City Hall officials have remained mum on just how much they are proposing to charge.
Notwithstanding, the Mayor threatened that should businesses refuse to pay the new fee, City Hall will have to resort to using the law to discipline them.