New trucks to improve garbage collection

Ten new garbage collection trucks will be in service by the end of January, officials said, helping to improve trash collection plagued by delays.

Roydell Carter, director of the Department of Environmental Health, said the priority is to return to normal service for commercial customers who have been frustrated the past 18 months as the department’s fleet of dilapidated vehicles struggled to cope with demand.

Mr. Carter also hopes to get back to twice weekly trash collection for residential customers once the new vehicles are in service.

He acknowledged that many commercial customers, including hotels, restaurants and supermarkets, rely on timely garbage collections for the smooth running of their business. He said the department has subcontracted some work to the private sector in an effort to meet the needs of those customers. However, he said maintenance problems with the department’s vehicles resulted in persistent problems and plenty of complaints from businesses about the timeliness of the service.

“On the commercial side, we will be back to normal. As soon as those trucks come, they will hit the road,” he said. “I am enthusiastic about it, and I know that the clients and the customers will be happy to see normal service resume after such a prolonged period.”

Businesses welcomed the news.

Keith Sahm, general manager of Sunset House hotel, restaurant and dive resort, said, “The department has really done everything they can to keep up with trash removal, but one small hitch throws the entire process in peril, and we would not get our trash picked up for days. I am sure 10 new trucks would give them the resources to keep on top of refuse removal.”

Tom Mason, who runs the Comfort Suites hotel on Seven Mile Beach, said garbage collection is especially important for hotels, where the lingering smell of trash leaves a bad impression on tourists.

“I think it has been a challenge over the past few years, and we greatly welcome the new equipment. More regular and timely pickups would be great.”

Jason Brown, who runs Island Waste Carriers, said his firm made private collections to the extent allowed under the current structure. He hopes the new national waste management plan, now in the works, will lead to a greater role for private sector firms in trash collection.

The Department of Environmental Health is getting three new front-loading trucks, which will handle commercial containers, three residential rear-loading trucks, one grapple truck and three roll-on roll-off trucks for larger containers.

The department is still short of having all the equipment required to run the landfill site effectively, spending around $35,000 every month to rent excavators and other machinery.

But the vehicle purchases will mean community collections are adequately serviced, officials said.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, who recently took over ministerial responsibility for the landfill site, said at a press briefing Monday that the new equipment would help compensate for lack of funding over the past few years.

“One of the areas we have neglected in government’s austerity measures has been environmental health. The funding has not been in place to replace equipment,” he said.

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