By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Free National Movement has condemned the Christie administration’s proclamation that remediation is in place at the New Providence landfill, saying it is “now patently clear” that Renew Bahamas is incapable of managing the fire-plagued property.
The party said the “epic failure” by Renew Bahamas should be viewed as a clear indication that the Progressive Liberal Party has wasted the “hard earned monies” of the Bahamian people.
Last night, Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett released a statement that said officials from his ministry are holding discussions with Renew Bahamas and police “to assess the present security regime at the landfill to ensure its maximum impact.”
“While Renew is responsible for providing security, the government is assessing the adequacy of the security measures in place in light of the recent fires and the suspicion of arson,” he said. “Security at the site is critical and is not a small task as the site is over 100-acres within a 300-acre plot of land. I have impressed upon all stakeholders that there must be a concerted effort to ensure that resolution be brought to this situation as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
He also said Renew Bahamas has made progress since it was contracted in 2014 to remediate the landfill, which was expected to reduce fires.
Another massive fire erupted at the site on Sunday night, the third in about three weeks.
“Renew Bahamas had not delivered and thus they have further exposed the government’s lack of commitment to the promotion of health and safety in our communities. More clearly, it demonstrates to the people that environmental and health issues are not given priority by this government,” the FNM said.
“The FNM and the Bahamian people continue to be concerned about the ability or lack thereof, of this company. Consequently, we demand that the government explains how this company was selected.
“Additionally, they should also explain how a contract was given without a request for proposal (RFP) or public tendering. The government is yet to disclose who are the principle owners and shareholders in the company, yet they were given a lucrative contract by the government. What does the government have to hide from the Bahamian people in this deal?”
The FNM said since Renew Bahamas was contracted, fires have “gotten worse with no end in sight.”
When contacted by The Tribune on the matter, Renew Bahamas CEO Gerhard Beukes and Chief Commercial Officer Michael Cox called the criticism “unfair.”
They said the record would show that the company has worked tirelessly to curtail recurrent fires.
They added that the nature of the latest fire has led officials at the landfill to consider that recent blazes are more to do with materials coming in to the site, rather than materials already on the site.
According to Mr Beukes and Mr Cox, there are already a series of procedures being carried out at the site to ensure that flammable materials are handled in a manner that does not cause new fires.
The treatment of flammable materials being introduced to the site was something that Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller yesterday took issue with, suggesting that the efforts being carried out by Renew were being limited by “bad and unrealistic habits” that predates the company.
According to Mr Miller, the source of many of the recent fires at the New Providence landfill site appears to be predicated on the burning of tyres, plastics and a number of other combustible materials dumped at the site.
He told The Tribune that during his most recent visit to the landfill he saw loads of tyres being dumped, while officials worked to extinguish a blaze.
“This has got to stop,” the Tall Pines MP said, as he described his constituents’ complaints about the recurrent fires.
“For God’s sake, the people, my people, all people deserve better than this nonsense. It must stop. I mean look - it is not only unhealthy, it isn’t fair to the residents that have to deal with this on a day to day basis.”
The Tribune understands that the presence of flammable materials at the site has become a contentious issue between Renew Bahamas and the Department of Environmental Health Services, the government department with the most immediate oversight of the landfill.
Sources at the DEHS have confirmed that Renew Bahamas has made a point to ask that flammable materials be removed from waste-loads prior to loads being offloaded at the dump, an issue the source said has been met with opposition because of the amount of money it could cost the department.