Even residents living within the constituency of the Minister responsible does not guarantee any idea of which day, or sometimes, which particular week, domestic garbage will be collected. And I specifically mention residents, as businesses like ours, even though we live on the premises, which is considered a ‘perk’ and taxable, do not receive any state ‘complimentary’ waste collection at all.
For years we have been separating all waste, and on a far more regular basis than our area receives from the Sanitation Service, B’s recycling collects free of charge, cardboard, glass, plastics and metal containers every week on a particular day. All other disposable garbage is placed in a skip and frequently emptied at a cost payable to a private sector company of around $350 each time which covers rental and removal.
Like many businesses we sighed with relief when the ill thought-out Municipal Waste Tax fee was abolished, but that was until we realised that the exact amount, in our case over $8,000, had simply been added to our annual land tax bill. So no increase in land value, but an additional weekly burden of $165 to receive no service whatsoever!
We all know Government is under severe economic pressure despite the significant increase in visitor arrival numbers and spending, with all that extra non reclaimable VAT it generates.
The biggest single problem that this spasmodic state garbage collection causes is that poorly wrapped waste is left to the mercy of stray dogs, multiplying rodents, especially rats and since the increase in rainfall, massive and widespread mosquito breeding. This is particularly disturbing, considering the much publicized discussion related to the ZIKA virus in the worldwide media.
From the short exercise walk each day we undertake, it is obvious that most Barbadians do not separate and sort all their domestic waste and Government alone cannot be blamed for this. Personally, I would like to see more corporate sponsored recycling bins placed at strategic places which could include rum shops and even churches, where space exists.
Our Minister responsible for the environment could lead the way by placing some colour coded disposal bins at his constituency office and his political opposition ‘wannabe’ might follow suit, to set an example. Companies like B’s should also receive duty free concessions for their vehicles and other equipment that would help reduce the amount of waste dumped at the landfill and where there is some cost benefit gleaned from recycling.
As with the Transport Board, the current administration appears unable to ensure the Sanitation Service Authority can maintain and operate sufficient vehicles to undertake the job required, so my suggestion is that they turn this part of their operation over to the private sector. The Government would instead lease the vehicles on full maintenance contracts with specified time limits, to allow for frequent new vehicle replacement, say after five years.
None of this is rocket science and has probably been said many times before, but before we turn this what may be perceived as a pristine destination into a 166 square mile garbage tip, something has to be done.
The overwhelming majority of our visitor’s emanate from countries which have been practicing successful recycling programmes for decades.
Surely it is not beyond our tiny country?