Lanterns ends hauler’s contract over illegal waste disposal
General Manager of Quality Business Services Ernest King was one of the main actors in the protest against Government’s $25 per tonne tipping fee and its potential impact on the environment.
However, the quality of the service offered by his business has come under scrutiny as the company is being fingered as the main culprit behind the illegal dumping at Bucks, St Thomas.
At the height of the protest by truckers in May, King was vocal about his concerns for the environment, contending that the tax would have a negative impact on it.
“Something that I am very concerned about is the environmental impact of the tipping fee tax. We can talk numbers and we can go into our account receivables, and we can see what is owed and what is due, but how do we put a cost on what will happen as a result of this fee,” King said at the time.
He is now paying the cost for his company’s actions as at least one of his clients has announced that it has dumped Quality Business Services after a team from the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) found proof today that it was behind the illegal dumping first reported by Barbados TODAY last night.
The team, which included Acting General Manager Rosalind Knight, Mangrove Landfill Superintendent Carl Boxill and Assistant Manager for Engineering Shawn Phillips, accompanied by a team from Barbados TODAY, discovered waste from the Elegant Hotel Group, Lanterns Mall and Sunbury Plantation.
Freshly dumped chicken entrails and feathers, car tyres, coconut shells and discarded television sets greeted the team, as well as a settee placed comfortably at the centre of a grassy field.
Careful investigation by the SSA team uncovered packages and printing material originating at the upmarket restaurant, Daphne’s, Turtle Beach Resort, Lanterns Mall and Sunbury Plantation amid the garbage.
When Barbados TODAY contacted King this afternoon he pleaded ignorance and shifted the blame to his employees. He also expressed anger and regret and promised a “muscular” response.
“This is hurtful to me and it leaves me angry and upset, but I must make sure that my anger does not get ahead of the law. The new Employment Rights Act gives a lot of protection to workers so I must tread carefully. I would have liked to know that the police were called in. I cannot put into words how furious I am, not only from a business level but from a personal level as well. Dumping goes counter to the core of what I believe. I am a keen environmentalist so I am very hurt by what happened.
“I am afraid that if all that I heard is true, then it is a matter that the company would need to deal with forcefully. The response from my company would need to be muscular to the highest degree. However, any action would also need to be legal because the Employment Rights Act gives workers a lot of leverage and companies must be careful how they proceed. We cannot proceed with haste to do anything because we may find ourselves on the wrong side of the law,” King stressed.
Owner/Director of Lanterns Mall in Hastings, Christ Church Frederick George admitted to contracting the company’s services for the past four years without a single complaint. However, due to today’s revelation he said he would terminate the contract immediately.
“I pay Quality Business Services to do a job professionally, but if they dump the garbage in front of Government House, I cannot be blamed. It shows that they do not have any pride in their country. They have been doing the job for four years and I never had any difficulties with them, however this behaviour reflects on my company. I will not keep them any longer. They have lost a contract. To all intents and purpose I do not feel they can survive this. That is their fault.”
Meanwhile, the Elegant Hotels Group, which includes both Daphne’s and Turtle Beach Hotel, said it was investigating the claims. Chief Executive Officer Sunil Chatrani said the group was made aware of the allegations last night and swiftly put a team in place to investigate the matter.
“We will in no way condone this behaviour which in the short and long term is detrimental, not only to the country and our people, but to the livelihood of our business as well. We have had a contract with the present company for eight years and have never had any issues or received any complaints. We are eager to get to the bottom of this matter and have it resolved immediately,” he said in a brief statement sent to Barbados TODAY via email in response to a request for a comment.
Today’s discovery has highlighted the SSA’s powerlessness to prosecute offenders, the Acting General Manager lamented, explaining that the powers of prosecuting lay with the Ministry of Health. However, she said this was likely to change.
“We are in the process of drafting legislation to give the SSA powers of prosecution. So hopefully in the not too distant future we will be empowered to prosecute,” Knight explained.