By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
PROVIDENCE Advisors/Waste Resources Development Group Consortium is the government’s selected bidder for the investment and management of the New Providence Sanitary Landfill and the group estimates the total project will cost around $130m to complete.
Although he could not reveal yesterday how much the consortium would be paid to transform the dumpsite into what will be known as the New Providence Ecology Park, Housing and Environment Minister Romauld Ferreira insisted the government “got it right” when compared with the efforts of the former Christie administration.
Definite timelines for when tangible changes could be seen or when the company will take over the dumpsite were not readily available. Equipment along with reporting and accounting mechanisms have also yet to be decided.
The minister said these key details have not been decided because the contract’s finalisation has not yet happened. It is expected the government and the consortium will negotiate over a 30-day period after the private company accepts the letter of award, which was issued yesterday, in accordance with the request for proposal. Providence Advisors/WRDG has seven days to confirm the acceptance of the letter of award.
The project will feature several sustainability measures and beneficial features for the immediate long-term health of the surrounding communities and environment, said Kenwood Kerr, chief executive officer of Providence Advisors.
These include but are not limited to extinguishing all fires at the site and implementing operational measures to prevent such fires in the future; remediating the existing site’s leaking toxins and health hazards transforming an ongoing nightmare for the site’s neighbours into a well-run operation with much reduced environmental impacts; as well as keeping the site clear, secure and green with a lush natural vegetation cap.
The consortium says they will also ensure there is recycling, reusing and recovering at least 50 percent or more of the waste generated in New Providence; installing a landfill gas and leachate collection and management system, extending the current site’s operational lifespan to at least 2052.
Creating 30 megawatts of green, renewable power inclusive of up to 15mw of solar power and up to the same amount of biomass generated power is also a feature of this new landfill.
There is also to be a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by some 220,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is the equivalent of the emissions of 37,000 cars.
Eventually, a public mini golf course, fitness circuit and ecology park within a buffer zone will also be featured.
Mr Ferreira said he was not a part of the technical team, adding there had been no political interference in the selection process.
“At the beginning, we said that we wanted to get this right,” Minister Ferreira said. “We said that over and over again.
“Obviously the Bahamian public through the press wanted deadlines to appraise the people when this was going to happen. We were more concerned with getting it right going through the technical steps and a proper assessment etc.”
He added: “Nothing is guaranteed. I won’t sit here and say we are 100 percent. Nothing is guaranteed, but we are very, very certain based on the technical assessments the calibre of people that did the technical assessments that this is the best possible entity to take over the management of the New Providence Sanitary Landfill and we have every confidence at this time in their success and ultimately the benefits to the Bahamian people.”
Mr Kerr assured Bahamians funding was readily available in escrow to ensure the group could see the landfill remediation through to completion.
“We as a group accompanied by some of the members Henry Dean and Wellington Rolle, we have been active travelling dual paths here so we want to see the terms and the conditions of the award so we can develop a finalised contract,” Mr Kerr told reporters.
“We have a team that is waiting and ready to be mobilised within the next 30 days, that’s the first thing that will happen that you will see visibly a team on the ground that’s working dealing with all the what we would call low hanging fruits as it relates to the optics and the operations of the landfill.
“My team is from today on accelerating and finalising the capital raising, which we have escrowed to a large degree so that we have the appropriate funding to move forward in earnest.”
Mr Kerr further explained the $130m needed will be divided for the operations and management of the landfill and then for the development of a conservatively sized small power plant.
“For clarity, the operations, remediation and management of the landfill and putting in all the necessary infrastructure to do it properly in our technical submissions to the government was a number that ranged I think from $47m to $54m and this could be back checked for accuracy,” he said.
“Linked to that project is conservative sized renewable energy infrastructure which is a power plant in English so that’s a very conservative small sized power plant that’s estimated to be in the vicinity of $70 odd million. So when you combine the two it’s an estimated project total cost in the area of $130m.
“That power plant is a combination of solar and biomass power generation, which takes the waste stream, puts it into an incineration burning process and it creates power that will be transferred on to the grid of BPL and into their base load network at a price. So that’s what makes up that $130m.”
He explained: “Not to be presumptuous, before we embarked on the process we had identified funding. Clearly funding is driven by the terms and the conditions that will be concluded and defined in the contract.
“Once those economically viable terms that all parties agree, the funding is available to be accessed to start the project immediately.
“As the financial advisor to the group we wanted to be proactive in the process. Clearly as we move through the completion of the RFP requirements discussions with the government, we were advancing our discussions with the funding, which is 100 per cent local and as we move through the process, as the process became clear as the outcome became a little clearer, the funding commitment cemented and became clearer.”
Providence Advisors has a mammoth task ahead.
This is because Renew Bahamas, which withdrew its dump management services in 2016, did very little at the landfill, Thomasina Wilson, senior deputy director for landfills in the Bahamas, said.
“Renew Bahamas was never asked to remediate the landfill,” she said in response to a question from The Tribune. “So that aspect of operation was never a part of their contract. They were generally just operations and management and to say that they did anything, very little was done.
“So the new consortium is not picking up from where they left off, it’s a new slate inclusive of the remediation aspect of it.”
The landfill has been plagued with intermittent fires, with the most recent one happening in January. A massive fire in March 2017 burned for almost three weeks. This fire caused an evacuation order and displacement of Jubilee Gardens residents. It also sparked great public outcry for a resolution to this vexing problem.