Submitted by David Comissiong
22 October 2016
Ms Margot Harvey
Sanitation Service Authority Board
and Members of the Board
(Erskine Simmons, Neil Marshall,
Peter Barrow, Jeffrey Nurse,
Stephen Layne, Peter Gilkes,
Carolyn Brathwaite, and Debra Walker)
c/o Sanitation Service Authority
2nd floor NPC Building
Dear Sirs / Madams
Re: Privatization of functions of the Sanitation Service Authority
I act in my capacity as a Citizen and taxpayer of Barbados, and write to each of you in your capacity as a member of the Sanitation Service Authority Board, and in accordance with your appointment to the said Board on the 16th of June 2016 by Dr. Denis Lowe, the Minister of Environment and Drainage, acting under powers conferred on him by the Sanitation Service Authority Act, Chapter 382 of the Laws of Barbados.
As you are no doubt aware, the Sanitation Service Authority Board of which you are a Member is a “board” or “other authority of the Government of Barbados” and exercises powers and is bound by duties conferred and imposed by the Sanitation Service Authority Act.
You would also be aware that under Section 9 of the said Sanitation Service Authority Act, it is provided that “the expenses of the Authority……….. shall be defrayed out of moneys voted for the purpose by Parliament”. (In other words, out of moneys provided by the Citizens and taxpayers of Barbados!)
Furthermore, as a result of the public / governmental / statutory status of the Board that you are a Member of, the said Board is legally obligated to make decisions and to act in a manner that is NOT “unreasonable” and /or that does NOT constitute an “irregular or improper exercise of discretion”. Additionally, the Board is NOTpermitted to make decisions or to act in a manner that constitutes a breach of or omission to perform a duty.
And you would also be aware that under Sections 3 and 4 of the Administrative Justice Act, Chapter 109B of the Laws of Barbados, the decisions and acts of a Board or other authority of the Government of Barbados (such as the SSA Board) are subject to Judicial Review before the Supreme Court of Barbados in the event that such decisions or acts constitute :–
“ (e) unreasonable or irregular or improper exercise of discretion”
“ (l) breach of or omission to perform a duty”
It is against this background, therefore, that I would now like to draw to your attention the financial implications of the decision that was recently made by your SSA Board to “privatize” some of the functions and services of the SSA by hiring eight compactor trucks owned by such private sector companies as Williams Liquid & Solid Waste Management Inc., Forde’s Freighting &Rental Services Inc., Garbage Master Ltd, and Project Recycling Ltd, at a rental fee of $411 per hour per truck, over a six month period.
The information that has been made available to me and other members of the Barbadian public through the news media establishes that the SSA will be paying the private business-men $411 per hour per truck, and that each truck will be in operation for 8 hours per day and for 5 days a week.
Thus, EACH TRUCK will cost the SSA (and by extension the taxpayers of Barbados) the sum of $16,440 per week or $427,440 over the six month period, and ultimately $854,880 over a one year period –in the likely event that the arrangement is extended .
This half-yearly cost to the SSA of $427,440 per truck or yearly cost of $854,880 PER TRUCK needs to be juxtaposed against the one-off cost that the SSA would incur if it actually purchased such a compactor truck for itself —- approximately $250,000 !
The question that arises therefore is as follows:- Why should the Sanitation Service Authority Board be saddling the SSA (and by extension the taxpayers of Barbados) with payments to private businessmen of $427,440 per truck per half-year (or $854,880 per truck per year), when the Board could have purchased the said truck for a one-time cost of some $250,000 , and end up being the OWNER of the truck rather than a mere RENTER with no ownership rights ?
In addition :– Why would the SSA Board enter into such an arrangement with these private companies, when it means that several truck drivers who are members of the staff of the SSA will have no trucks to drive (and therefore no duties to perform) but will still be entitled to receive payment of their full salary from the SSA ?
On the face of it, the decision that the Board has made to put this privatization scheme in place is so financially outrageous and so detrimental to the financial interests of both the SSA and the Citizens and taxpayers of Barbados that it appears to constitute an “unreasonable or irregular or improper exercise of discretion” and/or “a breach of or omission to perform a duty”.
The purpose of this letter therefore is to draw the ugly and outrageous implications of this decision to your attention, and to hereby request that you provide me (and by extension all of the other Citizens and taxpayers of Barbados) with a written explanation and justification of this decision, so that we — the Citizens and taxpayers — can make our own assessment of your rationalization and determine whether further action (including legal action) is required.
I now hereby call upon each of you to do his or her duty as public officials accountable to the people of Barbados, and to provide the said requested written explanation/justification within 14 days of your receipt of this letter.
I would also like to inform you that in light of the fact that this matter affects not only me, but all of the other Citizens and taxpayers of Barbados, I intend to share the contents of this letter with the national community through the news media. I also propose to similarly share your response with my fellow Citizens.
Citizen of Barbados