By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
DEMOCRATIC National Alliance Leader Branville McCartney yesterday castigated Prime Minister Perry Christie over reports the government is leaning toward a Bahamian consortium to alleviate woes at the New Providence landfill just days after a Baha Mar official suggested that the state of that property could be an issue for the resort moving forward.
The former Bamboo Town MP, while scoffing at the government’s “quick response when the Chinese come calling”, urged voters to hold the government accountable over the ordeal he said has been a blight on citizens for years to no avail.
Mr McCartney was referring to comments made by Graeme Davis, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) Bahamas, president earlier this week.
Mr Davis, during an appearance on radio talk show “The Revolution” with host Juan McCartney on Monday, said he and other businessmen in New Providence are concerned about the inability of the government to properly remediate the city’s landfill.
While his remarks on Monday were expressed publicly for the first time, the DNA leader yesterday speculated that Mr Davis’ feelings had been made privately to the government on several occasions since CTFE, Baha Mar’s buyer, entered into discussions about the resort.
A day after Mr Davis made his remarks, a Tribune Business exclusive report revealed that members of the 10-strong Waste Resources Development Group (WRDG) met with Mr Christie on Monday as the government becomes increasingly eager for a solution ahead of Baha Mar’s April 21 opening.
Mr McCartney, who in recent years has been one of the strongest proponents for the remediation of the landfill site, said: “It is curious now, that the prime minister would now be running around trying to fix this problem because the Chinese has said something about it.”
He added: “The Bahamian people have been talking about this for years and years and years and nothing happened until the Chinese start making noise. Only thing the man said was that he had a problem with it and… (the) prime minister gone and start doing things.
“We have had protest, public outcry and my understanding is that this is just coming to the attention of the new purchaser. It is probably coming to the understanding of the new purchaser because they probably smelled it last weekend like I did.”
Mr McCartney lives in a community near the landfill.
“I guess for us Bahamians, if we want anything done we need to go down there to the Chinese Embassy and start making some noise; and then we may get this government to do things and get off of their backsides to do some stuff.”
Mr McCartney said while he wants the Baha Mar property to come to some positive resolution, he understands what the potential owners could be facing with the acquisition of the once stalled $3.5bn resort.
Frequent fires have been a vexing issue at the dump for years, with the site sometimes emitting thick, toxic black smoke extending for miles outside of its perimeter.
Mr McCartney said it was next to impossible to hold to the idea that a visitor would spend thousands of dollars to travel to the Bahamas to stay at a resort minutes away from a toxic nightmare.
“Buyer be aware,” asserted the DNA leader.
“The owners of Baha Mar must be very careful because when that dump starts to burn, and it is starting to burn now, it is not a pretty site and it smells bad; but most importantly it is not good for your health and the health of the visitors coming to that resort.
“We as Bahamians have experienced it already.”
Mr McCartney criticised the disregard shown by successive governments; the Progressive Liberal Party’s inaction over a $650m Stellar Energy waste to energy proposal and the Free National Movement’s passivity after receiving an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) grant in the mid-1990s to alleviate the ordeal. He said this has compounded an already bad issue into something that now threatens the health and economic livelihood of the country.
The DNA last March announced that if elected, the party would seek to put out a request for proposals (RFP) for the construction of a new “state of the art scalable megawatt waste-to-energy facility” starting at 85 megawatts.
The deal, which would be structured in the form of a public private partnership (PPP) with a local initial public offering (IPO), will allow for the government to recapture full ownership of the waste of energy plant by Bahamas Power and Light after a determined period.
Renew Bahamas, the company contracted to manage the landfill in 2014, pulled out of that deal recently claiming low profitability rates.
The government has still not clarified the circumstances surrounding Renew’s withdrawal.