It’s Rubbish!

Lowe lays waste to SSA privatization talks

Fresh from a recent bout of illness, a tough talking Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe Tuesday laid to waste any suggestion that Government intended to privatize the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA).   

“Let me make it abundantly clear in this country, there has been no discussion, there is no intention on the part of the Government at this time to privatize the Sanitation Services Authority. That is a fact,” he told fellow legislators at the first sitting of Parliament following the summer recess.

However, even as he rubbished growing speculation on the matter, which has been fuelled by the new waste collection arrangement between the SSA and private waste haulers that took effect on October 10, Lowe made it clear it was still Government’s prerogative to do so.

Leading off debate on a resolution on the Barbados Green Economy Scoping Study, he dismissed talk of  privatization as nothing more than an attempt by some “to create mischief in the society” in an attempt to influence the public.

“They don’t know what they are talking about. They are just running their mouths all over the place like athletes without understanding or seeking to understand what the intention of the Government is. Let me repeat. There is no intention on the part of the Government to privatize the Sanitation Service Authority.”

Under the new waste plan, private haulers have been servicing four parishes – St Philip, St Peter, St Lucy and St John – at a rate of $411 per hour for eight hours a day, Monday to Friday.

The arrangement is expected to continue for six months in the first instance.

From the outset, the arrangement got the thumbs down from the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), which immediately raised alarm that it could result in large-scale retrenchment at the SSA and also hit consumers in the pocket.

Outspoken social activist and attorney-at-law David Comissiong also accused the Democratic Labour Party Government of embarking on a process of privatization and he has given the SSA board 14 days to justify the “financially outrageous” decision or face possible legal action.

“Why should the Sanitation Service Authority board be saddling the SSA [and by extension the taxpayers of Barbados] with payments to private businessmen of $427,440 per truck per half-year [or $854,880 per truck per year], when the board could have purchased the said truck for a one-time cost of some $250,000, and end up being the owner of the truck rather than a mere renter with no ownership rights?” Comissiong asked.

However, Lowe was adamant that Government’s critics were speaking out of turn, describing the concerns as “mouthings of those who are only looking for significance”.

“If the Government has decided it wants to privatize the SSA, they would have had the right to do that but the fact is [there] has not been any whispers, any hints, any conversation in any quarters that the SSA is going to be privatized,” the minister insisted.

He stressed there was nothing new about the partnership between the private waste haulers and the SSA, pointing out that the two sides had teamed up last year after Crop Over and into Christmas.

Lowe emphasized that Government was not on board with any commercialization of the SSA, reminding legislators that during the 2014 retrenchment exercise, the waste collection agency was shielded from cuts, “because we understand the vital role of the institution in our society and delivery of social good.

“We do not believe that the commercialization of a Sanitation Service Authority is going to solve the problem that we have,” he added, indicating that challenges at the SSA were a result of a lack of reliable equipment.

“The challenges of the SSA is not the workers  . . . and therefore, there is no notion that should go aboard that the Government of Barbados is trying to ditch 600 workers and privatize the institution, because once you privatize the SSA it now becomes a commercial activity.”

Lowe also challenged the notion that anyone would want to purchase the SSA, saying: “I hear somebody talking about buying the SSA … to hear some of the rubbish that some people talking.”

Earlier this month, business magnate Ralph Bizzy Williams offered to take over the operations of the troubled Government agency for $60 million.

Poking fun at the idea, Lowe cautioned, “ If you privatize [the SSA], the householders have to pay to get their waste collect. Government would not subsidize any privatization of the SSA. Let me make that clear.

“That is why we believe that garbage collection in Barbados is best kept in the hands of the State because the State sees it not as a commercial endeavor, the State sees it as an essential social service,” he said.

10 Responses to It’s Rubbish!

  1. Caroline Clarke
    Caroline Clarke October 26, 2016 at 2:52 am

    The SSA. Had to pick up my garbage cause I haven’t seen the private waste haulers yet and my garbage was there for nearly 3 weeks and I live in St Philip

  2. Tony Webster October 26, 2016 at 3:22 am

    Aha! Now I get it….all our garbage problems is de fault of de new trucks that we did not buy, but dat we shudda buy.
    So… it’s all de fault of the S.S.A. Board? Or Hon. Minister of Finance? God’s fault?

    Maybe, if stress is an issue, we should ease up the said Minister of Garbage…and give Environment to Minister of River Tamarinds and Loud Speeches, since St.Joseph jes’ get back some water?

    All is becoming as clear as the water up in St.Lucy.

  3. Realist October 26, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Athletes don’t run all over the place they run with a purpose; what is yours? You claimed that you are not privatizing although you still have the prerogative to do so. What are you not saying, tell us the truth, please do.

    I think he is still sick.

  4. RHBB October 26, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Dr. Lowe is the consummate politician. People raise specific points/questions and he does not respond to the question but goes off on a tangent about something else. The fact is that he is ultimately responsible for the garbage situation. If he cannot figure out what too do about it, step aside!

  5. Mac October 26, 2016 at 8:06 am

    You must listen carefully to politicians.

    “Let me make it abundantly clear in this country, there has been no discussion, there is no intention on the part of the Government AT THIS TIME to privatize the Sanitation Services Authority.” That is a

    Before last elections there was no plans to send home workers


    AS time passes there may be plans to

  6. The Negrocrat October 26, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Yes Tony, 8p6.., The Minister of River Tamarinds and Loud Speeches wukking. we now have river tamarinds in every nook and cranny in Barbados. Good agricultural land now growing that crop.
    When will we start exporting it to someplace with a classification plant?

  7. Phil October 26, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Mr. Minister, Please explain exactly what you mean by ” there are no intention to privatize AT THIS TIME the SSA, by this Government” as spotted by Mac in his comment above. Are you implying that privatization WILL occur eventually? Another question. Since this a contract agreement by private haulers and government. Can this be classified as a provision of a service and hence, a 17.5% charge is to be added to their cost of $411.00 per hour? This IS law and is mandatory. Explain that.

  8. Sunshine Sunny Shine October 26, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Welcome back, Low Lowe. Hope you are well and healthy. We know that whenever matters rise to a level that implicates you, you does do an exit and stage sick. All the talk you talking, I want you to fully understand that before you were the minister of the environment, the garbage was collecting without these levels of problems. So if all of a sudden there is a management problem at the SSA, equipment failure, brek down trucks, and nuff stress, then the problem would got to be your type of management and whoever else cronies you put to run the state own agency. The solution is simple, get rid of you, get rid of the person currently running the SSA with you in the background micromanaging and whapax, problem fix.

    • Donild Trimp October 26, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Oh Lawd, Sunshine Sunny Shine, yuh killing me.

      These people run things like a banana republic and they continue to believe the majority of Barbadians are stupid.

  9. Tony Waterman October 26, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    “Let me make it abundantly clear in this country, there has been no discussion, there is no intention on the part of the Government “at this time” to privatize the Sanitation Services Authority. That is a fact,”

    A Great Denial, but PLEASE examine the Denial , “There is no intention on the part of the Government “”AT THIS TIME”” to privatize the Sanitation Services Authority.

    My humble Opinion on this is, that when one states “AT THIS TIME”
    some Consideration to do just that, must have been on the Table at some point in time.
    this is brought out in Pargraph Three where Mr.Lowe Said “That, it was still Government’s prerogative to do so.”

    Then in Paragraph 5, he says “Let me repeat. There is no intention on the part of the Government to privatize the Sanitation Service Authority.” But please Remember The Government Still has the Prerogative to do so”

    USER FEES is in the Works, mark my word, and you can say i told you that FIRST.


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