By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Government should have given “serious consideration a long time ago” to proposals by Bahamian waste service providers to takeover the management and remediation of the New Providence landfill, the Democratic National Alliance’s (DNA) leader argued yesterday.
Branville McCartney said:
“I know that there are a number of persons who are interested in remediating or fixing this dump that the Government just pushed on the side. This is not rocket science. It happens around the world.”
Kenred Dorsett, minister of the environment and housing, told Tribune Business last week that his Ministry was reviewing proposals by a Bahamian consortium and other groups in bid to resolve the New Providence landfill’s environmental and health hazards “in the shortest possible time”.
Renew Bahamas walked away from its contract in Hurricane Matthew’s aftermath, after it was unable to generate the necessary income to sustain itself amid a decline in world commodities prices, and a fire that rendered its materials recycling facility inoperable for several months.
Tribune Business then revealed last week that the 10-strong Waste Resources Development Group (WRDG) has met several times with the Government, which is increasingly eager for a solution to the landfill’s woes ahead of Baha Mar’s April 21 opening.
Mr McCartney yesterday launched into a scathing criticism of both the former government and the Christie administration for the failure to address what he says has become a “travesty”.
He questioned what became of the $23.5million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in 1999 for a solid waste management programme, something he claims he never knew of while a member of the Ingraham administration.
“Nothing was done with that. We are paying that loan back and the dump still burns today, and we still have health problems,” the DNA leader added.
Mr McCartney yesterday called for persons affected by the landfill fire to file a class action lawsuit against the Government.
“That is a travesty. Had Baha Mar been open, the guests and employees would have been welcomed by a burning dump,” he said.
“Every year around this time the dump burns. The PLP has done nothing in terms of remediating and fixing this dump. The only thing we have had is the LOI scandal. They also dealt with Renew Bahamas. Bahamians never knew what the deal was surrounding that. They have been a complete failure.”
Graeme Davis, the top Bahamas-based executive for Baha Mar’s new owner, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE), recently went public with his concerns over the landfill.
“It’s a huge concern for us, as it is for many businesses and persons,” Mr Davis said of the landfill on ‘The Revolution’ radio show. “The last thing we want is a toxic plume of smoke coming over the golf course on the day we open.
“We’ve already encouraged and spoken to the existing government that they need to address it, and they’ve made a commitment to address it. We’re all concerned, and want to make sure it is addressed and goes away.”
DNA deputy leader Chris Mortimer yesterday reiterated that the DNA would seek to put out a request for proposal (RFP) for the construction of a scalable waste-to-energy facility at the New Providence landfill, starting at 85 megawatts (MW)
The deal, which would be structured in the form of a public-private partnership (PPP) with an initial public offering (IPO) of shares to Bahamians, will allow for the Government to take full ownership of the plant after a set period.
“It will create an environment that is healthy and great-paying jobs for middle class Bahamians. It will ultimately phase out the eyesore that we experience every year,” said Mr Mortimer.