Work on a new suite of waste management facilities to replace the George Town landfill site is unlikely to begin until next year at the earliest.
A consortium of companies led by Dart Enterprises was selected as the preferred bidder for the project last October. Representatives from Dart now are involved in protracted negotiations with government over the details of a 25-year contract to take over responsibility for waste management.
A second consortium, which has not been named, is on standby should negotiations fall through.
Martin Edelenbos, Dart’s engineering coordinator for waste management, said it was expected to take until October of this year to finalize the contract.
The new system is expected to reduce the 100,000 tons of waste currently going into landfill every year by as much as 95 percent. Instead, much of the trash will be fed into a 7-megawatt, waste-to-energy plant and sold as electricity to the Caribbean Utilities Company.
Recycling and composting centers and a much smaller lined landfill site are part of Dart’s proposal, but roadside waste collection will remain the remit of the Department of Environmental Health.
The current landfill site will be capped and covered with grass.
Mr. Edelenbos acknowledged it may seem like not much had happened since the announcement of Dart as preferred bidder last October, but he said a lot of work was going on behind the scenes.
“We are dealing with a long list of reserve matters that need to be resolved to get to the contract stage,” he said. “It has to do with making sure that government is completely satisfied with the solution that Dart is proposing from a technical, financial and legal perspective.
“When this contract is promulgated, it basically means a 25-year deal between Dart and government – that’s why it takes a lot of time to get this resolved.”
Jim Schubert, government’s senior project manager, said the two parties were working through the details of the contract. “It should be noted that we’re still in negotiations and the contract has not actually been finalized and awarded as yet,” he said.
The process of carrying out an environmental impact assessment on the project is under way. Draft terms of reference outlining the parameters of that study are being reviewed by an Environmental Assessment Board and a series of public meetings is expected next month to get feedback.
Mr. Edelenbos said Dart was hopeful the environmental impact assessment would be completed in time for planning applications to be submitted by the end of the year, with a view to construction beginning in early 2019.
The project will be unlikely to impact one of the more troublesome aspects of waste management in recent times – roadside collections.
Mr. Schubert said the public would see little change in the way waste is collected at the curbside, but he said there would be new options for residents and commercial companies to bring waste to be recycled.