An onslaught of garbage is anticipated at Le Repentir Cemetery as Christmas-related activities intensify in the city and further afield.
This is according to City Mayor Hamilton Green who told a press conference Monday that all evidence suggests that the dumpsite is already being flooded with additional waste from the East Bank and East Coast of Demerara and the West Bank and West Coast of Demerara. The dumpsite he said ought to have been closed years ago but is still open through no fault of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown.
Director of Solid Waste Management, Hubert Urlin, said Monday that during the Christmas period there is usually a 20 to 25 percent increase in the quantity of waste received, over and above the annual average. He disclosed that measures were put in place to increase the amount of equipment available at the site in terms of bulldozers to be able to push the waste for a couple of hundred feet in order to have it reasonably accommodated at the site. However work in this regard, Urlin said, remains a challenge.
According to Mayor Green, the municipality has over the past few weeks been doing all within its financial and other capabilities to maintain the dumpsite, which is currently in a precarious state. Green revealed, too, that efforts were made to seek the cooperation of Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Kellawan Lall, under whose purview the municipality falls. He disclosed that at a recent meeting held at the instance of the Minister, following the last fire that had erupted at the dumpsite, the challenges of maintaining the dumpsite was highlighted.
The meeting was attended by the Chairman of the Finance Committee and Deputy Mayor, Robert Williams, and the Mayor himself, who said Monday that “the Minister himself noted that he felt the time had come for Central Government to take over the running and the management of the Le Repentir dumpsite.”
In welcoming the support of the Government, Green stated that a request was verbally made for a memo stating the willingness on the part of Government to manage the dumpsite. No memo has since been forthcoming, and according to the mayor, he has since written to the minister in this regard on two separate occasions seeking clarification on the way forward.
It was at the meeting too, Green said, that the Minister had informed that the new dumping facility at Haags Bosch on the East Bank of Demerara, would be ready by early January. However, Mayor Green said he has since been advised that the site will be closed for the holidays and that early January may not be possible.
“This means that the municipality will remain burdened with the task of maintaining a dumpsite that is really a tragedy.”
Even as the municipality awaits much needed support to manage the burgeoning dumpsite, Green said that it appears as though some persons are attempting to place the entire blame on the municipality.
Previously, he said, the municipality was informed that the current dumpsite would have been closed by the middle of this year and that the contract awarded to Puran Brothers would have been accelerated to close the two cells at Le Repentir and clean the site before handing it over back to the municipality.
However, improvement and expansion of the cemetery remains a challenge to the council, Green lamented. Even the City Constabulary which is charged with securing the facility has been having difficulties controlling the traffic at the dumpsite.
However, Urlin did relate Monday that some discussions were had with officials of the Inter-American Development Bank, which is responsible for availing US$18M towards the closure of the city dumpsite and the construction of the new site at Haags Bosch. Resulting from the discussion, a decision was made to allow the opening up of a cell that should have been closed at the Le Repentir site, thereby making space for additional waste.
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