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Yes to Privatisation of Waste Management

             Audley Gordon
Getting the management of solid waste out of Government hands can’t happen soon enough.We are therefore  heartened that Prime Minister Andrew Holness shares that view and, early in his Administration, had established an enterprise team to do just that and more.


At the time it was established, in October last year, the enterprise team was mandated to manage the process of the Government’s waste-to-energy programme, contract out solid waste management and collection, and manage the divestment of the Riverton City landfill.


On Tuesday, Mr Holness told the country that the team had completed a pre-feasibility study and, while more was not reported, we expect that the findings of the study will be examined and acted upon where appropriate.


For, as the prime minister correctly stated, there are some services — one of them being the collection of solid waste — that Government is now providing which it really shouldn’t.


Indeed, Mr Holness stated that it was his firm view that whatever service the private sector could provide more efficiently the Government should cede to contracted service providers.


He has our support on that, because we have seen too many instances of agencies set up with the best of intentions to offer well-needed services but have been ruined by partisan politics. Instead of providing a benefit to the country, these agencies morph into centres of incompetence, as they are staffed mostly with party loyalists who, in the majority of cases, lack the skills to do the jobs gifted to them.


The upshot is that these agencies eventually become heavy burdens on the budget and taxpayers are made to pay for the political folly.


In the case of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Mr Holness correctly pointed out that service quality and standards are compromised because the authority is both the regulator and provider.


Separating those roles, therefore, makes eminent sense and should lead to improvements in the collection and management of solid waste — an issue of great importance and which needs strict regulation if the country is to ensure that the population is protected from hazardous waste, environmental contamination, and the potential spread of disease.


The prime minister is also correct in stating that reforming the NSWMA “as a part of the bigger picture of public sector reform” is the sensible path to take because, based on information coming about that entity over the past few years, it will never be able to perform efficiently and make a profit if it continues to lack adequate resources.


We recall that in March 2015 the then executive director of the NSWMA, Ms Jennifer Edwards, lamented the fact that the authority needed 274 trucks, each doing two trips per day, to collect the garbage generated every day. However, the agency had only 55, which she described as old and broken. And of that 55 at least four or five were out of service each day.


On Tuesday, the current executive director, Mr Audley Gordon, pointed to the poor state of the fleet, saying that it was “allowed to deteriorate for a long period” and that the trucks were being operated around the clock.


That is simply unsustainable. It is past time to correct.



Category/ies:Jamaica News, News, Regional News, Waste to Energy.
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