Minister heaps blame for garbage problems

Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe heads to Parliament tomorrow to table amendments to the Sanitation Services (SSA) Act, amid ongoing problems surrounding the operations of the state-run SSA.

Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe walking along Foul Bay Beach yesterday.
Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe walking along Foul Bay Beach yesterday.

Without detailing the problems, Lowe told reporters today that the issues affecting the island’s lead waste disposal agency had been “catalogued, documented, discussed, debated, you name it, and we are working to correct those issues”.

However, he also warned Barbadians that in the immediate future Government would seek to ensure that the polluter pays, while stoutly defending its implementation last year of a $25 tipping fee.

Insisting that neither the fee nor the reported shortage of SSA trucks was to blame for the ≈current problem of illegal dumping facing the island, the minister said: “I hear people saying all the time, ‘the Government wouldn’t buy trucks. The minister wouldn’t buy trucks.’”

However, while noting that the purchase of one new garbage truck would cost roughly $480,000, he said, “the truth of the matter is that the minister would like to go buy 100 trucks, but that is not going to solve the problem”.

Following a tour of south coast beaches, some of which have been negatively impacted by illegal dumping, Lowe however warned that Government would be pursuing a polluter pays model of tax collection.

“If it is in the heart of man, Barbadian man, to be irresponsible in the disposal of his garbage, or her, in the case of a woman, then trucks will not solve the problem,” he argued.

“There needs to be an attitudinal adjustment where persons take ownership of their country and begin to believe, ‘as Barbados go so go I,’” stressed Lowe.

Since its introduction last year, the controversial tipping fee has been widely criticized by industry players, with prominent businessman Ralph Bizzy Williams recently suggesting that it could be one of the reasons for the increase in illegal dumping.

However, Lowe said: “What amazes me is that most persons who live on this island are within walking distance of a carriageway [and] if a garbage truck cannot get up your gap because it is too large then there are provisions made for you to come to a common area and place your waste, and it will be collected.”

In response to criticisms that have been levelled against the Government, he said: “I don’t know what the Government is to do. I don’t know if the Government is supposed to police every single activity with a whip and a loudspeaker and say, ‘when you are finished take your garbage or put it in a common area where it can be collected.’”

While expressing bewilderment over the situation where he said Barbadians were not disposing of their garbage properly despite numerous messages, Lowe said in launching the SSA amendment Bill in Parliament tomorrow, he would also take the opportunity “to address some of these issues of waste and waste management and where we need to go with that process”.

However, when pressed on a possible timeline for the revision of the tipping fee, Lowe simply said, “There are some people who do not like to wear clothes. I challenge them to walk through Barbados naked.

“They may not like it but a rule is a rule, and if the Government implement a tipping fee that is within reason, which we know it is within reason, because international standards suggest to us that Barbados has one of the lowest tipping fees, and for many years never really charged a tipping fee.

“We will look at the tipping fee, we will scrutinize it, we will try to ensure that all persons who generate waste are a part of the paying for that waste and therefore you can anticipate that there will be a further examination of the tipping fee with a view of ensuring that it is a fee that does not discriminate against anyone, it is a fee that is manageable and that it is within the corridors of international law and expectation,” he said.

However, when asked if he was satisfied that the tipping fee was raking in the monies intended by the Government Lowe said it was “not about the money”.

“It is about coming up with a fair system to ensure that we have the same first world standards that we strive for, we accept and we practice. There could always be an argument as to why do we pay a fee, so who pays it?” he said.

17 Responses to Minister heaps blame for garbage problems

  1. Curtis Griffith
    Curtis Griffith February 9, 2016 at 4:40 am

    A wash of Gobbledygook

  2. Brownskin Joy
    Brownskin Joy February 9, 2016 at 5:05 am

    What de madness stupseeeeee take de money from de celebrations and do the right thing I love my country, other importants things at hand right now,

  3. Samud Ali
    Samud Ali February 9, 2016 at 5:33 am

    We recently spoke of whether or not Bajans were innovative; so here’s a thought. Can some innovative person, hopefully a young smarty pants, come up with a way to convert a cheaper truck into a garbage collection vehicle so 400, 000 bucks ain’t an issue?

    • Sherene Drakes-Seales
      Sherene Drakes-Seales February 9, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Not only that. Why isn’t it compulsory as yet for householders to recycle their own garbage?.. Why are we still dumping all of our refuse in one garbage bag or receptacle?… Why are we still putting the corn beef tin, de mackerel tot, de milk and orange juice carton, de turbo packets, de toilet paper roll, de macaroni pie ratings de chicken fat, de potato and breadfruit peelings, de old door mat, and every conceivable thing all together? We ought to be responsible for our own garbage management also. Another thing Samud, your head is in the clouds.. You’re so idealistic it ain’t funny.. By the time that young smarty pants innovator finish with the cheaper alternative vehicle. It will end up costing more than a regular garbage truck.. Somebody pockets somewhere will be ‘stuffed’ no pun intended.

    • Samud Ali
      Samud Ali February 9, 2016 at 8:02 am

      The powers of authority don’t want to address that problem but will make wrappergate the bigger news story

    • Samud Ali
      Samud Ali February 9, 2016 at 8:03 am

      I like my head in the clouds….gives me a better view from above

    • Samud Ali
      Samud Ali February 9, 2016 at 8:04 am

      How many public schools have recycling day or bins? The private schools do

  4. Ken R. Smith
    Ken R. Smith February 9, 2016 at 5:48 am

    When one thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse……smh

  5. Danny Colombian Clarke
    Danny Colombian Clarke February 9, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Well he never accepted any blame for his clear incompetence at running this ministry so why start now. All he ever did was hire ppl left right n center prior to elections to ensure his political career. The same ppl now that get send home n fighting for the lil money that is theirs. This man is the most incompetent minister it ain’t funny and he aragont at that too.Waste haulers wanted a meeting and Donville had to go meet them cause he decide he meet them already and he could not be bothered with a follow up. But when Cahill land he up front n center pen in hand . smh

  6. Tony Webster February 9, 2016 at 6:42 am

    I got to write these words on the front page of my bible:-
    “There are some people who don’t like to wear clothes. I challenge them to walk through Barbados naked”

    Thus done, I will then be able to pray for such people…and also to pray a really big blessing on the author of this immaculate pearl of wisdom…who was only asked when the the tipping fee would be revised!!

  7. Santini More
    Santini More February 9, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Thank you Minister for once again telling us that you are entirely blameless on this matter and all the trouble is due to us nasty little Bajans who have the audacity to want a functioning sanitation & waste system, such as the one you inherited back in 2008.

  8. Tara Inniss-Gibbs
    Tara Inniss-Gibbs February 9, 2016 at 7:23 am

    And at no time did he mention that reducing, reusing and recycling were key parts of an effective waste management strategy… And no mention of fining polluters for illegal dumping. There are people who have innovative, participatory solutions to waste management in this country — where is the engagement? Where is the coordination?

    • Ryan Henry
      Ryan Henry February 9, 2016 at 10:05 am

      They’re not gonna mention reduce reuse recycle because it has no immediate financial benefits that cahill disaster has

  9. Fatima Hafeji
    Fatima Hafeji February 9, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Zika is causing a panic and neither has my garbage been collected for 2 weeks nor have I seen any health inspectors around. What is being done to address vacant lots that are left to harbour rodents and mosquitos? Please address that before even thinking of advising women to defer pregnancy.

  10. Sue Donym February 9, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    This was a long winded admission that Dr Lowe is not fit for the task of being Environment minister.

    He would love to buy 100 trucks although he knows it would not solve the problem.
    “I don’t know what the government is supposed to do… police every activity with a whip and loudspeaker?” No, Massa!
    “I challenge them to walk through Barbados naked” – where have we heard something like this before?
    “International(ly) Barbados has one of the lowest tipping fees” It also has one of the lowest rates of economic growth, let’s take that upward, too.
    “We will try to ensure that all who generate waste… pay for (it)”
    Hold on to your undies for this one, Dr Lowe, we ALL generate waste – from the baby with no control of its body to the cash register slip for payment of ministerial perks.

    So maybe the cabinet colleagues can rethink the raising of the VAT threshold and instead strengthen the compliance functions so that everyone pays fairly. Then you enforce the recording and oversight so that monies are well accounted for and appropriately channelled. Pretty certain most people would appreciate tightening up collections on existing taxes rather than digging deeper for inadequate services. Then again, you could be right; it might not be about the money.

  11. eddy February 9, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Mr. lowe! “boy” you sound so stupid. There are so many small garbage truck about, that could get into any of these small gap. The problem is that the SSA abandon the daily scheduling, so when people put their garbage out on the night before, so the trucks will pick the garbage up the morning time, but when no truck turn up that day or for that matter the week that garbage is let there for a week or more. So tell Mr. Lowe his house in order first.

  12. Andrew Simpson April 17, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    All mixed garbage should be delivered to SBRC or other site approved by SSA and be subject to higher tipping fee than waste which has been presorted for recycling. I agree with the polluter pays principle. SSA should charge for collecting residential garbage based on volume or weight, to discourage householders from mixing everything. This would provide an enabling environment so the ‘free market’ might fairly compete for green waste and the recycling component. Land taxes to be reduced commensurate with allocation for solid waste.


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