Government has activated its emergency response teams to assist with the collection of waste across Barbados.
This was confirmed by Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, as he sought to allay concerns over what he has described as a “protracted problem” with waste collection across the country.
He also gave the assurance that his Ministry was working towards a permanent solution to getting the Sanitation Service Authority’s (SSA) fleet back up to a reasonable number.
Speaking during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Dr. Lowe said: “We cannot ignore the fact that waste must be collected. Therefore, what we have done in the last few hours is reactivate our emergency response teams and most of them have been deployed to assist with the collection of waste.”
The Minister explained that the activation of the emergency response team involved the SSA receiving assistance from other ministry/agencies with equipment suitable for waste collection. Among those agencies rendering assistance are the Ministry of Transport and Works, the National Conservation Commission and the Drainage Division, who would provide compactors and other vehicles.
However, Dr. Lowe made it clear that his Ministry recognised that the ultimate remedy to the situation was the renewal of the SSA fleet. “We are satisfied that we are in a position now relative to what is required to service the country [considering] how the demographics of the country have changed over the years, and how we must refashion our waste management services to suit the new challenges, including the increase of daily production of waste,” he said.
Dr. Lowe noted that given the country’s improved economic position, the “relevant authorities” had already pledged to inject resources to assist with waste management. The Minister said that the results of a recently-completed Korean study on waste management in Barbados were being used to inform decisions going forward.
“We understand the urgency of being able to respond to the requirements of waste collection; we understand the regulations that dictate how the waste must be collected and by whom; [and] we stand prepared to take whatever measures necessary to meet our service requirements in that regard. And, we assure the public that as resources become available we will rectify the issue of the vehicles.
“We know what we need. We have identified sources that could help us supply those needs, and once the appropriate protocol has been observed, we shall endeavour to have these new vehicles as quickly as possible,” Dr. Lowe stated, while refuting claims that the SSA has a fleet of new vehicles in the Bridgetown Port.
He assured Barbadians that Government was not “sitting by idly” and not understanding the importance of its responsibility as it relates to the collection of waste.