Haulers surprised by tipping fee waiver
Private haulers say they were taken by “surprise” by news that the controversial tipping fee had been waived and were awaiting clarification from Minister of Environment Dr Denis Lowe.
“It’s come to us as a bit of a surprise. I don’t know whether it is to facilitate the clean up or whether it is for a group of people involved in cleaning. I am not really sure,” Managing Director of Simpson Trucking and Skip Services Charles Read told Barbados TODAY.
Over the weekend, Lowe announced on state television the waiver of the tipping fee, in response to the ongoing strike by unionized workers at the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA).
The strike,which has resulted in unsightly pile ups of garbage all across the country, is now into its fourth day.
“ . . . For the time being, we are creating that facility for persons who are willing to come forward [and help],” said Lowe in announcing the waiver.
However, Read said the Waste Haulers Association was unsure about the details of the waiver.
“I know that a couple of guys made calls to the SBRC [Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre] . . . to make sure that the tipping fee is still in place, so I am not sure who exactly it applies to or the length of time its suspended for,” Read explained.
But he said the association would welcome the waiver if it applied to them.
“It’s always a welcomed move. You know our position on the tipping fee. It’s a burden on us and it is impacting on some sectors within the waste haulers group. It is having a very negative impact on our industry, so it would be a very welcomed move,” he said.
Back in May when the tipping fee was first introduced, waste haulers staged over a week of protests in an unsuccessful attempt to get the Government to scrap the levy.
Subsequently it was announced during the June 15 Budget presentation that the haulers would be required to register with the SSA and pay an annual licence fee, as well as produce a tax clearance certificate from the Barbados Revenue Authority.
Dave Hinds, the Chief Financial Officer of Hinds Transport, said he was not sure about the latest development.
“I find the suspension to be interesting because when we were having discussions, he [Lowe] said it was impossible. So I don’t know if he has gone to Cabinet and gotten an approval there, I don’t know.
“I don’t know if I am happy or unhappy. At the last Budget they promised that the fee was going to be reduced to $40 per load [but] that hasn’t happened, so I don’t know if it is happening . . . I am waiting to see what is happening. I’m withholding my enthusiasm,” Hinds said.
Meantime, Read revealed that the private haulers had been filling in the gap and picking up garbage as SSA workers continue their strike action.
“I think some of them have been helping with the critical places like the police, hospital and so on, but I think generally we are ready to help once the strike is over. I think they would be willing to help in a more structured manner, but that’s not our decision. That’s the decision of the SSA and to what extent they want to employ private resources,” he maintained.