Against much criticism, the Central Government had allocated $200M to the debt ridden City Hall in its 2018 budget. In disclosing how the Council will put this money to use, Town Clerk Royston King explained to this publication that almost half of this money will be spent on building the city’s garbage collection independence.
According to King, the Council will be proceeding with the purchase of two garbage trucks for use in the city, in keeping with its goals to build its capacity. He said that City Council, which owed garbage disposal contractors over $300M last year for services, wants to build its own capacity.
King related that the objective was for the city to handle 60 per cent of its Solid Waste Management program through collection in the city. He noted that this would be done incrementally and that the procurement will be administered by the Ministry of Communities.
“Coming out of the $200M allotted to the council by the government, we have decided that we would purchase two garbage trucks, and allied equipment. That is to say, the tractors and trailers… The allied equipment will assist with the removal of garbage from communities. That is on stream.”
“That will be done by the Ministry of Communities, because (as) we are getting a grant from the government, we will have to follow the various processes that are involved, including tendering for the trucks and the other equipment. So we are hoping the Ministry will be able to put out that tender by the end of this week. And that once you receive tenders, we will be able to move ahead.”
He was expectant that the council would have the trucks at their disposal by June 2018.
According to King, garbage collection is an important part of maintaining the integrity of the environment. As such, he said that it was only right the city bore some of this responsibility directly. The Town Clerk also revealed that the estimated cost for the two trucks will be $70M, while allied equipment will be an additional $15M.
City Hall has been the subject of much contention due to its persistent cash strapped status.
There have been persistent calls for City Hall to be fully audited. Back in 2015, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) had received two grants under the Communities Ministry’s Capital Programme for the “Georgetown Restoration Programme”, in addition to the “Emergency Solid Waste Management of Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill”.
According to the Auditor General’s 2015 Report, there were several “discrepancies” in the way the sums of money allotted to the City Council had been spent during that year. An audit last year was, however, reportedly severely hampered due to lack of cooperation between the Audit Office of Guyana and City Hall officials.
Puran Brothers Disposal and Cevons Waste Management withdrew their services on July 30, 2017, as City Hall’s debts had risen to the multimillion-dollar range. According to the companies, the issue of non-payment has been a long-standing one, with many debts going as far back as 2015.
However, they had resumed collection after the municipality approached Central Government through the Communities Ministry for a bailout of $475,635, 245 to settle the city’s debt to Puran Brothers, Cevons, and another company after they would have pulled their services owing to non-payment.
The bailout was granted, and Central Government decided to pick up the tab until December 31, after which the M&CC would step in.
Last year September, the M&CC had implemented fees for commercial waste collection. Small business operators are required to pay $5000 per month while medium businesses will contend with $8000 per month.
However, large business operators across Georgetown were required to pay the most significant figure of $12,000 per month for their waste collection.
The Solid Waste Director had told the Council that while the originally approved fees for commercial garbage collection were $5000, $10,000 and $15,000 – the last two were reduced to $8000 and $12,000 after consultations.
This year, persons will have to pay a $100 fee per barrel for garbage collection, on a domestic basis.