New Purchases will Increase Number of Garbage Truck by 86 Per Cent

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Garbage -1

Garbage left in horrendous fashion all around the island of New Providence.

Dr. Hubert Minnis/ Minister of Health

Dr. Hubert Minnis/ Minister of Health

NASSAU, Bahamas — The Government of The Bahamas has allocated $2.5million in its budget for the purchase of ten additional garbage trucks, representing an 86 per cent increase in the number of trucks that will be in service.

Minister of Health and Social Development Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said the new vehicles will increase the total number of garbage trucks from 12 to 22.

“The addition of the ten new trucks, combined with the system and the organization that we are putting in place, will allow us to be able to deal with all of the matters of garbage collection appropriately,” Dr. Minnis said.

Dr. Minnis said the need to increase the number of trucks used for garbage collection was based on the fact that while the number of households grew over the past few years, there was a decrease in the number of trucks available for garbage collection duties.

He said that in 1990, there were 19 garbage trucks which serviced 67,000 homes. By the year 2000, the number of households requiring garbage collection had increased to 88,000 households and were serviced by 21 trucks.

Dr. Minnis said that as of 2006, there were just 12 trucks to service households in New Providence.

“The point here is that under the former Minister, the number of homes increased while the number of trucks decreased,” Dr. Minnis said. “At the same time, the Minister responsible for Housing in the former Government was all over the airwaves bragging about the number of homes popping up left, right, centre, but at the same time there was no provision for additional trucks.

“The assumption is that if the numbers of homes were increasing at the rate according to the former Minister of Housing and the numbers of trucks were decreasing, then obviously there must have been no plans or there was the assumption that these homes would generate no garbage,” Dr. Minnis said.

In the government’s Manifesto 2007, it pledged to provide regular and sustained solid waste collection from residential neighbourhoods.

Minister Minnis said the purchase of the ten new trucks is part of the “national strategic planning” process being utilized by the Government that is intended to correct some of the pre-existing deficiencies met in place by the Government.

He said the new measures will also help to bring organization to the beautification and maintenance of the country’s parks and verges, garbage collection strategies in addition to assisting with rodent and vector control.

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STATEMENT BY FRED MITCHELL MP
ON THE ADJOURNMENT
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
NASSAU

3rd October 2007

Hon. Fred Mitchell

Mr. Speaker, before the last adjournment of the House of Assembly I raised in this place a concern about the state of the environment in the island of New Providence and more generally The Bahamas. It was not the first time that I raised the issue. In fact at the time of the Budget debate, I raised the question of what was happening with the environment particularly as it related to the Fox Hill constituency. At the time, the side opposite was derisive and pleaded that they had only been in office a few weeks.

This was not a proper excuse. Government continues and the systems had certainly been left in place so that there should have been no interruption in the maintenance and upkeep of the parks, the roadsides and the collection of garbage.

The matter rested there after the budget debate and the last adjournment with a specific promise that there would be some improvement with the purchase of new equipment and the allocation of additional manpower.

I wish to report to this House that the situation has not improved. If anything it has gotten worse. It is really quite a national disgrace that this island is so filthy. If you proceed along the roads in my constituency and in others, it is obvious that the garbage is not being collected on time. It is also obvious that the roadsides and parks are not being properly kept. It is no excuse to say that there is a lack of equipment because equipment can be bought, and manpower can be hired.

Recently, an officer of the Department of Environmental Health paid a visit to my constituency office to say that the area had become part of a new zone system that the department had implemented to ensure that the island was kept clean. I went around with the officer and identified scores of lots that needed cleaning down, and places where there were old abandoned cars.

I also visited the parks and pointed out in particular the Fox Hill parade and the Freedom Park, the Eastwood Park. These parks have not been in such a disgraceful state of affairs in the ten years that I have been associated with the Fox Hill constituency. The grass is up to your knees and there is uncollected refuse in the garbage tins and on the grounds.

These are high use parks and they require constant maintenance and attention. These are not parks that can take once per month or twice per month. In the case of the parks in central Fox Hill, they have up until now a man or woman stationed there whose responsibility is to ensure that the parks are kept clean. That is no longer the case today.

Since that visit there had been no change in the state of the parks, the roadsides and in the collection of the garbage.

And I don’t hold the officer responsible. There are clear systemic issues that need to be addressed.

In the case of the Eastwood Park that is now a popular spot for people to walk in the mornings and evenings. Walkers have to walk amidst the garbage and the weeds. The grass is now encroaching on the walking path because the individual who now has the charge of the cleaning of the park does not take sufficient care to ensure that the grass is edged and cut away from the walkway. This needs to be addressed.

There must also be a statement on the problems associated with garbage collection and when that issue can be expected to be addressed. There is a good deal of frustration about the issue. The garbage is not collected on a timely basis and there is no solution in sight. Constituents call and they cannot get any answers or adequate response.

I am once again raising this vexing issue because I believe that a clean environment is absolutely essential to the health and well being of our people. I have read recently where there is a dengue epidemic sweeping across the Caribbean region. This is spread by mosquitoes, and we know that leaving around refuse also breeds mosquitoes.

The garbage and the environmental degradation, unless addressed directly and soon, could have further consequences for both the mental and physical health of the people of the country.

I once again urge the government to address this issue with dispatch.

Before I sit, Mr. Speaker, I read last evening that there is a new agreement amongst Caricom countries to cut down on the spread of infections in hospital that was signed by Caricom Health Minister in Washington earlier this week. The Bahamas was not listed being amongst those countries that are a part of that agreement. This causes me some concern and I would hope that the Minister is able to give an explanation for this.