Click here to print
Garbage Crisis Looming As Mexican Company Quits
Tue, January 10, 2017
For the last few days the transfer of solid waste in the country has been at a standstill and the garbage is piling up to the sky. That's because the Mexican company responsible for delivering waste from the five transfer stations across the country to the Mile 24 Regional Sanitary Landfill just up and quit! That company is called PASA, and they got their contract from the IDB which funded the waste management project. When the project was launched in 2013, the company's representative at the time explained how PASA will work. Here's an excerpt from our story at the time:...

FILE: July 30, 2013
The day to day operations will be done by the company called PASA. They will manage the Transfer Station, and they will monitor the informal workers as the garbage is being sorted into the different groups of recyclables and non-recyclables.

Ariel Mitchell - Representative, PASA Belize Limited
"The arrangement is that the solid waste management authority, will pay PASA based on tonnage, we will base on every ton of garbage as delivered to the mile 24 facility, is what PASA will be paid on."

Well, it seems the tonnage was not enough and after a protracted and costly dispute with its Belizean subcontractor, PASA just decided to pack up shop and move on effective yesterday, leaving the garbage piling up at the transfer stations in San Ignacio/Santa Elena, Burrell Boom, Belize City, San Pedro and Caye Caulker. The really bad news is, these stations only have facilities to handle about two days of waste build up. We spoke to George Lamb, the Manager of Belize Waste Control, and Belize City Councilor, Phillip Willoughby about possible short-term solutions.

George Lamb, Manager, Belize Waste Control
"I've come to know that there have been some back up occurring at the transfer station which is being managed by PASA. What they do there is the garbage is being recycled and waste would then be taken to the transfer station at mile 22. However, the backup seems to be getting out of control and its now affecting the regular collection system in the city. There seems to be some conflict between PASA and the company they have sublet to Lopez Equipment. That's what I can say."

Alex Courtenay, 7News
"So then the reason for the backup is because the company responsible for transferring that waste has ceased operations?"

George Lamb, Manager, Belize Waste Control
"Well that's what it appears to be, that Lopez has stepped aside. PASA is trying to find some alternative way of managing the waste. However, the waste is backing up and we are doing here at waste control about 110-115 tons of garbage per day. They cannot maintain and there wasn't provision in the facility to deal with backup for more than 1 or 2 days. Probably a day the most, but we are in to several days now. The waste has been piling up and they're resorting to know dumping the waste in the open on the ground and there's only so much waste that can be disposed that kind of way."

Alex Courtenay, 7News
"Is there any alternative that can be done by your company to facilitate this backup while its happening and while the issue is still at large?"

George Lamb, Manager, Belize Waste Control
"The only way we can deal with it is by waste control now taking the waste all the way to mile 22, which will be at a significant cost, but if we're thinking about maintaining our environment that's the only guaranteed way in resolving this conflict by taking the waste from the city all the way to mile 22."

Alex Courtenay, 7News
"So is that something that is being looked at currently?"

George Lamb, Manager, Belize Waste Control
"Yes we have what it would cost us and we are willing and prepared to make the adjustment in our daily routing. We need to inform city council, they play a role in this and even the generator - the different business outlets that are depending on us to move their garbage from the city on a timely basis. So yes we are prepared to make the necessary routing adjustments."

Alex Courtenay, 7News
"Is there anything that the city council can do or policies they can implement to help alleviate the situation or to help move it along?"

Phillip Willoughby, Belize City Councilor
"Our own involvement would come in as a third party because the contractor is managed and regulated by the city. I think to some effect if the equipment that waste control has to operate and manage the effective clean up and picking up of waste, the hours would then need to be tweaked to accommodate any anomaly or variation going to mile 22 landfill. In that regard, we can see how we can work with our city contractor who is contracted to pick up the residential waste to do such. Outside of that as far as the transfer station goes and the property back there, that's not our jurisdiction so to speak."

The Solid Waste Management Authority sent out a press release today saying, quote, "they are making every effort to contain the situation, and have therefore designated temporary dumping areas on the transfer station compounds to accommodate the garbage that continues to arrive. This is an interim measure."

But it's not just their problem. The Waste Management Authority is asking you to cut back on how much garbage you generate. The release says, quote, "We take this opportunity to encourage the public to minimize the amount of waste being generated. " It closes by asking the users of the transfer stations to dump in the designated areas.

Of course, the very relaxed tone masks what is a burgeoning national garbage crisis - which will take massive hauling capacity to rectify - and it has to be done in a hurry.

Close this window