By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
ENVIRONMENT and Housing Minister Kenred Dorsett confirmed yesterday that maintenance of the New Providence Landfill has been halted since a private company took over because fuel for operating heavy equipment has not been provided by the government.
His statement, which comes less than a month after Renew Bahamas took over administration of the site, follows The Tribune’s report yesterday of residents raising health and environmental concerns over the poor maintenance of the city dump.
“Renew Bahamas agreed to an earlier transition (interim take-over) than was initially agreed and based on that the government is still responsible for the provision of certain necessities associated with the landfill such as fuel,” Mr Dorsett said. “Up to yesterday the funding for fuel had not been provided thus the needed heavy equipment used for clearing, covering and maintaining the landfill were not operational. We are currently addressing this issue with the Ministry of Finance.”
In spite of the problem, Mr Dorsett said the public-private partnership between the government and Renew Bahamas has proven profitable.
“One specific example of the advantage of this partnership is the fact that the government of The Bahamas has spent approximately $600,000 this year for addressing and extinguishing various fires at the New Providence Landfill,” he said. “Since Renew Bahamas has taken management of the Landfill, two fires have occurred which were extinguished in a swifter fashion and at zero expense to the government. “
He added: “Another advantage is the enhanced security that Renew has provided at the landfill which the government fully supports. It is understood that those who would have gained from the Landfill under its former management, such as scrappers, will have a difficulty with the new arrangement as it will directly affect their unauthorised activities at the New Providence Landfill.”
Before the release of Mr Dorsett’s statement, Thomasina Wilson, Deputy Director of Environmental Services, confirmed to The Tribune on Wednesday that heavy equipment operators have not had the fuel to do their job.
However, she accused The Tribune yesterday of misquoting her in its article, saying that she spoke only to a hypothetical scenario.
In speaking to Ms Wilson, The Tribune had sought input from a senior official expected to have knowledge of the situation after residents complained to this newspaper about deteriorating conditions at the dump, which they said has already resulted in a unprecedented proliferation of flies.
Ms Wilson said yesterday: “I stated emphatically that I could not speak to the current conditions at the New Providence Landfill as I had not been there since management was assumed by the private company approximately three weeks ago. I was asked, hypothetically, I thought, of any adverse effects that can be experienced due to the conditions that were described to me.”
In fact, when The Tribune originally spoke to Ms Wilson, she said she hadn’t visited the dump since Renew Bahamas took over.
She then said: “I understand the whole place is completely inundated with waste every which place. 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.”