Deputy Governor Franz Manderson

Government’s top civil servant has a simple message for residents frustrated with inconsistent household garbage collections: “We’re sorry.”

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said he had personally intervened to help put things back on track.

He blamed a combination of equipment problems, staff shortages, staff absenteeism and issues with the management of overtime at the Department of Environmental Health for persistent problems with roadside collections.

Residents across Cayman have reported late and inconsistent collections since late last year and a petition, started by Newlands MLA Al Suckoo, is circulating, calling on government to deal with the problem.

Mr. Manderson said, “I am sorry that our waste collection team has failed to reliably and effectively manage waste collection. I offer no excuses, only a firm commitment that the civil service is focused on correcting the failure and restoring the public’s confidence.”

He said a number of employees at the Department of Environmental Health had been disciplined, adding that these workers were letting themselves, their colleagues and the community down through non-attendance and poor performance.

He said “emergency appointments,” including solid waste drivers and assistants, and support staff for the fleet manager, had been made to address staff shortages.

Private sector companies have also been engaged to “plug gaps” in cases of equipment failure, and a vehicle replacement strategy is being drawn up to address the ageing fleet of garbage collection vehicles.

Mr. Manderson made no mention of the Department of Environmental Health’s director Roydell Carter who has been on leave since December.

Government previously refuted suggestions that Mr. Carter had been suspended, but has declined to comment further or explain his lengthy absence from the key leadership role in the department.

An internal audit inquiry into the management of overtime at the department has been going on since late last year.

Mr. Manderson said steps had been taken to manage scheduling at the department, which is responsible for garbage pick-ups, to avoid “unsustainable and exorbitant overtime claims.”

Exactly what disciplinary action has been taken against the employees cited by Mr. Manderson for “poor performance” is unclear. Jennifer Ahearn, chief officer in the Ministry of Health, which includes the DEH, responded to questions from the Cayman Compass indicating that “various disciplinary matters” were being dealt with under the provisions of the Public Service Management Law and regulations.

Mr. Suckoo said he was pleased to see the concerns addressed in his petition, which gathered 500 signatures in the past two weeks, were starting to be addressed. He congratulated the deputy governor for stepping up and “owning the problem,” but said he would continue with his petition to present to the elected government.

“I remain optimistic that the changes detailed by the deputy governor will provide a permanent fix to the problems highlighted. I am, however, very disappointed that the elected government remains silent on the concerns expressed, and that the minister [Dwayne Seymour] in particular has not opted to weigh in on this very serious issue.”

1 COMMENT

  1. The taxpaying public have an undenuible right to know why their dollars are contibuting to Roydell Carter’s salary if in fact he has effectively been suspended for the last six months. For Mr Manderson and Mr Seymour to remain silent on this issue smacks of arrogance and a total disregard for the long suffering citizens of this country.

    • ‘Taxpaying public’? Could you explain? This beast has never existed on Cayman, surely.

      I agree, residents pay for the service but this is not a universal TAX.

  2. I would just like to say that as an annual visitor to Cayman you do have a garbage problem but not just about collection and your lovely Mount Trashmore. The trash and/or litter along your roadways is beyond belief. Maybe as you zip along in your car you don’t notice it so much, and it is easy to ignore, but when you walk or bike your beautiful island it is almost depressing. We tried picking up around where we were staying but it didn’t even make a dent in the amount of trash in the ditches and along the road. I’m not sure why it is so very bad but it definitely is- no one wants to deal with it but everyone makes it. Cayman is a small island and there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t be pristine. One thing that may help is far, far more trash recepticles around but they would need constant emptying. Therein lies the problem perhaps.

  3. I believe that the “We’re sorry”, and all the other excuses is what Mr Manderson believe that would fix the problems .
    What needs to be done to fix the garbage problems , is to fix the situation that is causing the problems , and they are bad leadership and management , to accomplish the leadership and management you are going to have to make some major changes in how things are done today .

    Buying new trucks and not having taken care of and maintained is the biggest problem in the sanitation service .
    The equipment owned by Government in years gone by lasted for 15 years or more , why can’t we get those kind of years out of the equipment today ? Have too much money and got to buy new trucks every few years .

  4. Well done Mr. Manderson for taking charge of this problem and promising solutions are in sight.

    As others have rightly said: Where is Mr. Roydell Carter, who is PAID to be in charge of this?

    I totally agree with Connie Monk about the trash by our roadside. Bottles, glass and plastic, just tossed out of windows when they could so easily be taken home.

    In Florida most larger businesses, Walmart, Publix, CVS, Target etc. have trash bins right by their front doors so the public can dispose of their bottles, fast food containers etc. Could Fosters, Kirks, Cost U Less do something similar here?

  5. Trash will continue to be a problem in the Cayman due to it’s small geography and massive amounts of tourists. Cayman residents might be against it, but I would look into creating multilple waste streams and incinerating or create an anerobic digestion plant so that trash in landfills could be minimized.

    • Good point.
      With 55K residents and 2.1 million people visited Cayman in 2017, there are 38+ visitors on each resident including newborns and elderly. Not even remotely Cayman residents stand a chance of keeping the islands trash free.
      Time for a different approach. How is it done in Singapore, a gold standard of clean and green city?
      Desperate times call for desperate measures. People get paid lots of money including the most generous benefits in the world to PREDICT and PREPARE for such problems.
      One thing is for sure- you don’t need more visitors.

  6. Do we see what is happening in the dump issues. What did Mr Seymour run on in the last election ? (the dump not coming to Bodden Town) How/ who gave Mr Seymour the responsibility for the dump ? How did Mr Dart get the dump contract 6 months ago? And nothing else is being done with moving or modernizing the dump . Did Mr Seymour give the dump contract over to Mr Dart ? If you can answer the above questions, you will see what is really happening , why Mr Manderson is apologizing for all the problems .