By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
A SUDDEN breakdown in services at the New Providence landfill is raising health and environmental concerns for workers and nearby residents, Deputy Director of Environmental Health Services Thomasina Wilson told The Tribune yesterday.
Her statements, which were echoed by others familiar with the situation, have come a month after the private company, Renew Bahamas, officially started work to correct the problems at the city dump.
Suggesting the private company was ill-prepared to take over so soon, Ms Wilson said tractor operators responsible for managing waste are lacking fuel resources for operating their vehicles, resulting in mismanagement of waste, which is now of concern.
“I understand the whole place is completely inundated with waste every which place,” Ms Wilson said. “It’s been going on a month now. There is a challenge getting fuel for operators. Operators can’t do their work because they don’t have the equipment to do so. The private company seems to be waiting for the government to provide resources for the diesel. They just like they’re standing still. I’m not sure why they didn’t leave it in the government’s hands until they could take it on.”
While Ms Wilson said there are no immediate health concerns for residents who don’t travel to the dump, she said if the problem persists it could affect nearby communities.
“Environmental issues could emerge because of the current set up of the site. Eventually, when you have a lot of open waste like that, you have a lot of flies and rodents and you have neighbouring communities like Victoria Gardens and Jubilee; eventually it would become a health issue,” she said.
Ms Wilson stopped short of saying that after frequent fires the government responded to pressure to solve the problems at the dump by bringing on a private company too soon.
However, she said: “As public servants, we really don’t know why certain decisions are made.”
John Pinder, Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) president, also called on the government to intervene and address the problem.
“There is great concern about the environment and nearby areas,” he told The Tribune. “Communities are being impacted by that. Once garbage is not moving, flies go all around. They’re disposing or covering garbage improperly so there is much more flies and odour heading to nearby residents. The garbage needs to be managed properly.”
Over the years, numerous proposals for remediation of the landfill has been made to the government.
Last November, Environment and Housing Minister Kenred Dorsett noted that the government was finalizing the terms of a five-year contract with a foreign company to conduct landfill remediation and recycling, as well as to study the New Providence waste stream.
Mr Dorsett said the government would maintain control of the dump and split revenue from the sale of recyclables.
Renew Bahamas was formed in July 2012 by Davis & Co, the law firm of the Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis.