~ Says inquiries into bidding ongoing ~
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Sunday said garbage haulers, with the permission of government and the Ministry of VROMI, are creating unsafe, unhygienic and dangerous situations across the island in the manner they are collecting garbage.
The MP explained that he has received several pictures and videos from concerned citizens showing, among other things, the usage of inadequate small vehicles to collect garbage, the wind lifting and blowing the garbage out of these vehicles, workers jumping in and out of open garbage vehicles, workers jumping into garbage bins to lighten the load before they can physically lift the bin to the rear of the vehicle ect. In the aftermath of these actions, spillage is left behind and is blown throughout the districts.
He said on any given day workers can be seen digging into bins to lift of garbage bags “only to have the bags burst open and garbage spread all over the place.” Rather than ensuring that all garbage is collected he said, workers collect what they can and simply move on. The trucks being used are also leaking garbage fluids on the road surface.
“We also see workers riding inside the back of the open truck with garbage piled up to their necks. This is unhygienic for both the worker and the district they are responsible to clean. Having garbage blowing out of open trucks is also dangerous. Which insurance company will pay for a vehicle that is damaged from flying debris? Or injures a person walking as the truck passes by? Residents are also complaining via social media and radio call-in programs about the visible increase of garbage scattered along the roadside.
MP Emmanuel has questioned how and why the Ministry of VROMI is allowing this kind of operational execution and if there were not standards of operations outlined in the Terms of Reference (TOR) document of October 2020 which was used to award the new garbage collection contracts. This is even more pertinent since the Minister of VROMI boasted of new procedures being put in place, he said. He added that there areno control and/or enforcement of proper operations by the Ministry of VROMI which by extension is ultimately responsible for any unhygienic situation created in the districts.
The MP also stressed that he is not yet finished with looking into the entire bidding process for the new contracts. “There is much more to come on that since the Minister of VROMI chooses to say my concerns expressed about the bidding process were just sensational comments. We will soon see what sensation is and what fact is. In the meantime, we are faced with a situation that can be prevented if government enforces its own regulations as outlined in the TOR for these garbage haulers. Such as garbage trucks with rear-loaders and side-loaders,” MP Emmanuel said.
“The TOR should clearly state that all collection vehicles must have fully enclosed steel bodies to prevent loss or spillage of the materials. If this is in the TOR, why is the Ministry of VROMI allowing all sorts of open vehicles to be used to collect garbage? The TOR should have indicated to garbage haulers the kind of vehicle to use and before any hauler was awarded a contract, the Ministry had to ensure that company actually had the vehicles necessary to collect the garbage. Making the companies sign statements of indemnification does not absolve the Ministry of VROMI of this responsibility,” the MP said.
“Government cannot be so irresponsible and throw up their hands. Enforce the stipulations and deal with the garbage haulers respectively for the sake of our communities and the health of the people living there,” Emmanuel concluded.