As a Member of Parliament (MP), I have a responsibility towards the people of St. Maarten who I represent. And this responsibility also includes passing on my observations to the Government that I support with the result of action being taken to remedy situations in the general interest of the people.
I have been observing the transition phase of the five waste haulers where it concerns picking up the garbage for the past weeks. I also have been walking around in the different districts, talking to the residents, communicating with some waste haulers about the garbage situation, and listening to the different radio/television programs, and especially taking note of the residents’ comments and concerns.
I also have heard of the comments on Facebook and have taken note of these as well, about the garbage situation. I would like to thank the general public and Foundations for sending me pictures along with their comments, and I can assure them that their concerns are also my concern. As a Parliamentarian it is also my duty to question Government/the Minister responsible and to express my concerns. I am a guy who likes to get things done and find solutions to every situation, which is my back-to-basics approach that I started with from the onset when I was a Minister.
I strongly believe in the saying “cleanliness is Godliness” and positive criticism instead of negativity, but Government must straighten out the garbage system to provide the people with good service. At the same time Government as a responsible Government must implore the standards on the waste haulers that workers executing the work must wear safety gear and other protective gear where needed when carrying out their work.
There is no politics in garbage collection and Government needs to address the situation right away by starting to hold waste haulers responsible and accountable for their districts. Clearly the transition phase didn’t run smoothly, but it is time for the waste haulers to get their act together by getting to know their districts, the residents and doing their job as it should be done.
You can’t clean some areas and leave the other side roads in the same district dirty. This is unacceptable and not good service. There are standards that have to be upheld. I would advise Minister Meyers to get a route schedule from each waste hauler along with the time they are going to pick up the garbage within the districts. Those responsible within the Ministry can do spot checks to ascertain whether or not good service was provided by driving through the districts and documenting their observations. In the event that waste haulers cannot execute their duties, the Ministry must review their contract. There must be checks and balances put in place by the Ministry.
I urge Minister Meyers to have an urgent meeting with the waste haulers and landfill operators to see what the issues are, and to have Ministry VROMI Inspectors enforce a better plan of action to deal with the garbage situation and the landfill (dump).
I have to also commend Minister Meyers, the Indian Merchants and businesses and the All Waste in Place Garbage Hauler for finding a solution for the commercial garbage in Philipsburg. We can solve a lot of our problems through dialogue to make St. Maarten a better place. This, of course, comes together by working together.
I am not here to play any politics or make excuses with the landfill (dump). We all know the landfill (dump) is an issue and has been so for years. There were several fires over the past years under different contractors who were managing the landfill. These fires will continue no matter who is managing the landfill until the root of the problem of the landfill is addressed by the project to deal with the landfill.
It is nearing its capacity and things have to change by starting the Waste-to-Energy project. The landfill must be a priority and Government has to take the necessary steps to address the landfill problem, by starting to execute the Waste-to-Energy project in the general interest of the people. Some projects will have such an impact on the general wellbeing of St. Maarten, touching various aspects of the living standard of our communities such as health, which both Parliament and Government must come to a consensus to move forward with the landfill project.
I am looking forward to Minister Meyers having an urgent meeting with the waste haulers and to get their garbage route schedule for the different districts, and for Government to enforce accountability in the garbage collection system. Let’s be part of the solution rather than the problem.
Member of Parliament Maurice Lake