Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Letter of the Day | Garbage corruption undermines private operators

Published:Wednesday | December 14, 2016 | 12:00 AM


We now have a new CEO for the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Audley Gordon, and a bright capable chairman, Dennis Chung.

Hopefully they will not follow the failed policies of past administrations, pursuing private waste collection contracts at unrealistic rates. This policy has led to corruption, the decimation of the NSWMA's fleet of trucks bought by taxpayers' money, enormous outflows of money from the public purse to NSWMA to support this policy, and no profit or an ability to replenish or repair its fleet to show for it.

We now have to take more of taxpayers' money to purchase more trucks to perhaps continue to perpetuate this policy.

The theory behind this policy is that it is 'additional' income for the agency.

The reality is, NSWMA charges unsustainable, below-market rates to undercut private waste haulers, with the limited equipment with which they cannot adequately service residential customers, and the additional money cannot maintain their fleet, which becomes overburdened with the extra collections, which are now the priority. This also encourages drivers to make their own routes/collections, further burdening the trucks.

These policies also mean extra diesel and parts from the public purse in order to to fund these routes. Further, it is now 'normal' to see NSWMA trucks collecting at business places. As this is so, many of these pickups are not even coming back into the public coffers, as many of these agreements are between supervisors, drivers and crew and unscrupulous business persons.

But, of course, that is what this policy allows to happen.

Further, the under-the-table deals are also ruinous to the private waste haulers' businesses, who are not funded by the public purse as the NSWMA is, and have to buy trucks at high interest rates and pay dump fees (NSWMA doesn't). Private operators also have to recapitalise, while the NSWMA just digs into the public purse every few years for more new equipment.

The trucks the NSWMA gets at any given time are not even enough to satisfy taxpayers and residential needs.

To drive them into the ground based on an unworkable premise is unfair to the taxpayers and public at large.

The Fair Trading Commission had even made a ruling against this unfair, uncompetitive and unproductive practice, as well as a former administration, putting a stop to it many years ago. But here we are again. Let us hope reason will prevail, and like most other successful countries, the NSMWA, our public regulatory waste- disposal entity, will focus on residential waste and leave waste disposal from commercial entities to privately owned waste-disposal companies.