$1.5M expended daily to collect refuse in Georgetown – King
Though it was able to meet the payment demands of private garbage contractors, the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown remains in a dire, cash-strapped state.
According to Public Relations Officer, Royston King, the Council expends about $1.5M on a daily basis to collect refuse in the city, which according to him “is a tidy sum for a municipality whose revenue base is very narrow…This core service influences the provision of other services and facilities to citizens.”
King pointed out that the financial challenge is effectively compounded by the practice of some residents who dispose of their refuse in the city streets, on road shoulders, parapets and into alleyways, a state of affairs which irks the municipal authority.
He highlighted that King Street, Wellington Street, the Merriman Mall, Light Street, Alexander Street, Sussex Street and Independence Boulevard, are hot spots for dumping by those who appear to be unconcerned about the health of the environment.
“This is totally unacceptable and unfair to those citizens who are law-abiding and making every effort to keep their surroundings clean,” King insisted.
He said Council is of the considered view that the indiscriminate dumping in different sections is a community problem that needs urgent attention by leaders and ordinary citizens living and operating within the city’s communities.
“This action is impacting negatively on the health of the environment and this is blunting the effort of Council to keep the city clean and beautiful.”
However, there are plans to address the culturally-embedded problem, King said. He explained that the municipality has on the cards the implementation of a quick response unit. This unit, according to King, will obtain information on those citizens who are engaged in dumping in the city and will also network with other related departments and agencies to locate litterbugs.
“Council is calling on citizens to secure the integrity of the environment by disposing their refuse in an appropriate receptacle and wait on the collection vehicles. Also, citizens should make full use of the litter bins installed in different parts of Georgetown,” King stressed.
It was just last week that the municipality was able to retain the services of private garbage contractors after affording part payment of a debt to the contractors, thus evading a potential garbage crisis in the city.
According to King, the municipality had owed the contractors close to $70M. A sum of $30M was paid towards the debt and saw the contractors committing to resume their operation.
Deputy Public Relations Officer, Debra Lewis, said that this development had been made possible through Government’s payment of $40M last week Thursday towards its rates and taxes for the first quarter of this year.
Private garbage contractors – Cevon’s Waste Management Services and Puran Brothers Waste Disposal Services – had withdrawn their services from the municipality the previous week for non-payment, a debt which had extended from the latter part of last December. Lewis revealed that Council had since been able to pay off in excess of $5M to the contractors for last December.
With Government’s payment, Council was able to make another payment of $30M to the contractors. This payment, according to Lewis, will represent payment for January through February of this year.
In light of this development and based on sustained negotiations, Lewis said that the contractors have committed to returning to their regular collecting duty around the city.
The contractors’ withdrawal had sparked much concern among Council officials and citizens from various parts of the city that were affected.
Though Council workers were still mandated to pickup waste from facilities such as hospitals and schools, there was evidence of indiscriminate dumping around the city, which the municipality had hoped to guard against by urging residents to either transport their waste to the Haags Bosch site at Eccles, East Bank Demerara, or keep same in plastic bags after dousing with a strong solution of disinfectant.