Private waste haulers protest cuts to their fees
Details have emerged of a bitter quarrel between Government and private waste haulers over a change in remuneration for the collection of garbage.
Barbados TODAY has obtained copies of letters exchanged between the truckers and both the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) and Minister of Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe in which the haulers complained that their fees were cut without their consent.
In one such letter to Lowe, the private haulers reminded the minister of the deal reached in early October last year, when they agreed a scheme to improve the island’s waste collection, and expressed their horror at being told some of them would be paid less what had been agreed at the October talks.
The truckers were summoned to a meeting at the SSA on the afternoon of December 22, 2016 and “were instructed by the general manager to change our rate” to $300 per hour, VAT inclusive, and not the previously agreed rate of $350 per hour plus VAT, “which we humbly declined”, Managing Director of Williams Liquid & Solid Waste Management Inc Troy Williams wrote in the correspondence dated the same day and titled, meeting to retroactively change the rate of three of the five private waste haulers contracted to provide garbage removal services.
Williams gave Lowe a detailed breakdown of what was agreed regarding the deployment of resources, including which hauler would service the agreed routes and the number of trucks that would be assigned to each route.
For example, three trucks from Project Recycle Ltd owned by Anderson Fat Child Cherry would service St Philip and St John, while Forde’s Freighting and Rental Services Ltd owned by Michael Forde would provide one truck to service the St Peter and St Lucy routes.
Forde would provide a second vehicle to assist Project Recycle Ltd in the St John area – from which Cherry was recently dumped – if the need arose.
Williams insisted any rate changes to the fees should come at the end of the agreed six-month pilot period, after which they were willing to negotiate a new contract. He also requested a meeting with the minister at his earliest convenience to discuss their concerns.
Barbados TODAY was unable to confirm if Lowe acknowledged the letter or if he had met the private haulers.
In separate letters to SSA General Manager Roslyn Knight, Acting General Manager Shawn Phillips and Technical Officer Askari Elson between September and December 2016, Cherry and Leslie Weekes of the Waste Haulers and Movers Association made it clear the drivers would not accept less than the previously agreed fees.
“With reference to your email received December 20, 2016, please note that I have never been informed by Sanitation Service Authority of any revised rates or any intention to revised rates. Hence, our invoices will remain as it, therefore I am requesting an urgent meeting to discuss this new development,” read one such letter from Cherry to Elson dated December 21, 2016.
In an email a day earlier, Elson had informed the haulers to “be reminded that the revised rate is $300 VAT inclusive, effective December 5, 2016. If you have not submitted your invoices at this rate, please do so as a matter of urgency”.
In letters dated January 9 and 10, 2017, addressed to the Knight, Cherry had also requested official confirmation that he would no longer service the St John route.
It was only on Wednesday that official sources had told Barbados TODAY Cherry had been dumped from the St John route, which would be taken over by the SSA.
Cherry had told Barbados TODAY he had been experiencing “challenges” with SSA General Manager, although he declined to give details.
“What I would say on the whole matter is that I don’t think that I am being and has been treated fairly . . . . There are challenges, but all challenges would have to be explained by the manager at the Sanitation Service Authority. She would have to tell you what the challenges she has with me,” Cherry emphasized at the time.
However, Knight has said she was unaware of any challenges with Cherry, and suggested the waste collection agency had no problem with his performance.