– Mayor…says unfortunate that Local Govt. Minister uses incident for political rhetoric
City Mayor Hamilton Green says it is unfortunate that the Local Government Minister, Kellawan Lall, would use the plight of the residents affected by the recent fire at the Mandela Dumpsite for political rhetoric.
Green was responding to statements made by the minister during a press briefing on Tuesday last, where Lall opined that the situation could have been brought under control earlier, but was allowed to reach to the stage that it had due to the lack of leadership at the level of City Hall.
The City Mayor questioned at what level of the municipality’s leadership Lall was speaking. He further questioned Lall’s technical expertise to comment on the issue.
He noted that, on several occasions, the City’s leadership had been undermined by the ministry, with one such example being the forced reinstatement of two City employees who were dismissed for dereliction of duty.
Green insisted that the two were employed as koker attendants and had almost caused massive flooding in the City, but had to be reinstated after a letter from the ministry ordered such reinstatement with full pay.
“It’s fitting to know that the two men were sons of a PPP councillor,” Green noted.
The mayor also sought to point out that the available resources at the City’s disposal were immediately deployed, but the efforts were stymied by a union official who had instructed the workers not to proceed. “This is in light of the crisis at hand.”
A press statement from the City’s Public Relations Department pointed out that, at this time, the Council cannot guarantee the residents that there will be no more fires, since the production of methane gas and other extant conditions would provide the almost ideal conditions for fire at the dumpsite.
The statement noted also that measures were put in place to monitor external conditions at the site.
The mayor also used the opportunity yesterday to reiterate the point that, for years now, the municipality has been asking for more land to create another site, and this request has consistently been denied.
He noted also that continued requests for Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funds to erect a fence around the site have also been continuously denied.
Green pointed out the fact that when the municipality opened the dumpsite aback of Le Repentir cemetery in 1983, it was intended to last for a period of two years, with an alternative site to be identified for long-term operation. “It has been 23 years since the intended period has elapsed.”
He noted that, in a collaborative effort with Central Government, the search began, and a number of proposals were put to the Government, such as proposals for an area along the Linden/Soesdyke highway; the use of mined out pits in the bauxite areas, and placing the waste in barges for export. Later, a pre-feasibility study was done to identify a suitable site.
“After closing BGCC (the site at Thomas Lands), we returned to the cemetery area, conscious that with the increased waste being generated, we needed somewhere with a much longer life. After wide consultations, a feasibility study was done and a site behind Eccles (Haags Bosch) was identified.
To date, several hundreds of millions of IDB dollars have been budgeted for the project since 2006, but the project is yet to materialise.”
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