Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett responded to a story being circulated via social media concerning the government’s fleet of garbage trucks that also insisted that he owned a number of trucks.
“I have addressed this issue before in the House of Assembly and in the media,” he said.
“I again state emphatically for those who did not hear or read my previous statements and for those who are only interested in creating political mischief, that I do not own nor have I ever owned a garbage collection truck or company. Over the years since assuming office I have released numerous statements through the press on the issue of garbage collection.”
He said on December 22, 2013 he released a statement concerning the garbage collection schedule and in that same statement he also listed the private companies that were contracted by the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) to collect residential waste on behalf of the government on a month-to-month basis.
That statement and all of Minister Dorsett’s statements remain in the public domain, accessible on the ministry’s Facebook page.
Minister Dorsett said one month following the press release on January 22, 2014, he released another statement on the state in which he met the publicly owned fleet of garbage trucks in 2012 and the government’s decision to have the trucks that were met in disrepair assessed by the diesel mechanics attached to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF).
“As a result of the continuous cannibalization of the garbage trucks and heavy equipment by stripping them of their working parts, the RBDF recommended that the trucks be removed from the DEHS facility to enable them to conduct a proper assessment,” he said.
“That was done and the facility which currently houses the publicly owned inoperable garbage trucks and heavy equipment is being utilized as a storage facility at no cost to the public purse. Discussions are ongoing with respect to the future of the inoperable trucks and their use. The public should be aware that the management of DEHS contends that the main issue was that the previous administration purchased the wrong garbage trucks for the Bahamian climate and terrain. The management of DEHS advised the former administration to purchase Mack garbage trucks. Against that advice they purchased 16 international garbage trucks.”
The environment minister said all of the trucks encountered engine challenges and failures in a short period of time and when he took office, there was a grave yard of international vehicles laid up and being cannibalized to repair the working trucks in operation.
“This state of affairs is what led to the government expanding the existing outsourcing of residential garbage collection, started by the former administration to the entire island of New Providence” he said.
‘The new programme created new entrepreneurial opportunities for Bahamians, more jobs and it has reduced the cost to the public purse and brought about certainty in budget calculations and estimates. If there is a scandal, it would be to ascertain why the previous administration purchased the wrong garbage trucks against the advice of the technical staff of the DEHS and how those trucks ended up in such disrepair in a short period of time under their watch.”
Minister Dorsett said based on the RBDF’s advice and other reports, in the interest of the public purse the decision was made to privatize the management of the New Providence Landfill, which has in the short time since commencement, already saved Bahamian millions of dollars, improved the collection of tipping fees and ushered The Bahamas into a new era of recycling.
He again denied all truth of the argument and said it was nothing but a political sham to assist the opposition with the upcoming general election.
“There is no doubt that the article being circulated online specifically social media is being done to gain political mileage for the Free National Movement or those who seem desperate to gain the attention of the electorate by using old and tired political tactics,” he said.
“However, this issue is one that has been addressed on many occasions and I will continue to address every time an operative of the FNM would think to destroy my good name for cheap political points.”