By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
ENVIRONMENT Minister Romauld Ferreira says he is “confident” Bahamian labourers and managers will eventually be brought in to assist in the running of the New Providence Sanitary Landfill.
His remarks were made on Monday on the sidelines of an Inter-American Development Bank loan signing ceremony, where he attempted to downplay concerns over the amount of foreign workers now employed at the site.
The government has a management agreement with the Waste Resources Development Group/Providence Advisors consortium.
Mr Ferreira, pushing back against the criticism, suggested Bahamians shift their attention away from the workforce and onto the “landmark” nature of the government’s agreement with the consortium.
“The most effective thing is, we are coming from a situation where the New Providence Sanitary Landfill has been plagued by a number of issues and we sought to resolve that,” Mr Ferreira said. “I mean, this is a landmark situation. We are making history here and we are hoping to repeat this same scenario with landfills and dumpsites throughout the country.”
Last month, head of the Waste Resources Development Group Henry Dean revealed the consortium had engaged a 20-strong workforce through its New Providence Ecology Park Ltd subsidiary, which is overseeing the landfill’s transformation.
Detractors of the scheme have subsequently taken issue with the number of foreign workers employed.
In response Mr Ferreira said he will not question Mr Dean’s work-plan for the site, or his suggestions that the workers currently employed by his company are best suited for the job.
“It’s his work-plan,” he said. “It’s not just him, it’s a whole group, it’s Waste Resources Development Limited and Providence Advisors... there are things that are within their discretion that are within their business model, within their business plan, that they have to execute.
“I think the most important thing that we have to look at within this equation is the effective management of the New Providence Sanitary Landfill, one that results in no, or minimum amounts of intermittent fires. I think that that is the real rub. That is the crux of the matter because you had persons whose lives were disrupted for weeks; schools, businesses, residences. I mean that’s the real issue, how effectively will this be run?
“Will we have fires? Will we have recycling online? Will we have streaming of waste?
“And all of these things are a part of the business model that they intend to bring on stream. In terms of hiring Bahamians for the job, of course, Mr Dean is a Bahamian…and so is Mr (Ken) Kerr. So they are going to be very concerned about bringing Bahamians in.”
Mr Ferreira said he respects the consortium’s position and business plan, suggesting that early indications by the consortium point to the future incorporation of Bahamians when the “time is right.”
“… They will be brought in on stream to take over the full management,” he said.
“There is nothing actually wrong with the transfer of information and the transfer of skills and knowledge. I mean, by far that’s a good thing.”
The Waste Resources Development Group/Providence Advisors consortium was selected as the preferred bidder to take over the landfill’s operations — and effect a $130m transformation of the site — in late August 2018.