Solid Waste Consultations begin along the Western Corridor Print E-mail
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Thursday, 18 April 2013 00:00

Gilroy Lewis, during his presentation at the Cayo Welcome Center last weekThe Solid Waste Management Authority (SWaMA) within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture held a public consultation on April 10. The event was held at the Cayo Welcome Center in San Ignacio Town. A similar consultation has been scheduled for Belize City at the Young Women Christian Association YWCA at 6:30 pm on April 18.

Garbage collection is a particular challenge for the Twin Towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. The Municipality spends some three hundred to four hundred thousand dollars per year picking up garbage. The Town of San Ignacio produces some forty two tons of waste daily while Belize City produces some seventy eight tons per day.

But some respite is on the way for the Twin Towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena Town and the other inhabitants of the Western Corridor, which consists of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize City, Belmopan and Benque Viejo. As part of the Solid Waste Management Project, a sanitary landfill at mile twenty four on the George Price Highway is now under construction. This landfill is now about eighty five percent complete and will serve as a final destination of garbage from transfer stations along the Western Corridor. The project itself comes thanks to a loan of U.S 14.789 Million from both the Inter American Development Bank IDB and the Opec Fund for International Development OFID.

Under the Solid Waste Management Project, the intention is to close down the Belize City dumpsite and instead build a transfer station there. The same will be done with the dump sites along the Western Corridor. Some sixty percent of the dump site near San Ignacio Town has been closed and construction of the transfer station begun just last week Wednesday. Sometime around June or July of this year the transfer station near San Ignacio Town will start operation.

Meanwhile; the engineering at the sloped sanitary landfill at mile twenty four on the George Price Highway has been well thought out to satisfy international sanitary standards. The area of the landfill has impermeable clay. In addition to the clay, the areas of the landfill are covered by several liners, both a two millimeter thick ‘geo-membrane’ and a ‘geotextile’, to prevent contamination of the ground water. Three lagoons will serve to treat the polluted water. The lagoons are also built on top of clay. Polluted water will flow through pipes that are already in place at the landfill.

The movement of garbage from households to the transfer stations along the Western Corridor and then to the Sanitary Landfill at mile twenty four on the George Price Highway as well as the inherent infrastructures, involves much in capital investments; even though the Government will be paying back the investment cost of infrastructural work. The facilities at the regional sanitary landfill, built to have the least environmental damage, alone will cost some US $5,104,279.00

It is for this reason that consultations are now being held with members of the public along the Western Corridor, to inform them about the need to have some tariffs or user fees to recover these costs. The plans would entail two levels of fees for households, a social rate which is very low and a regular rate for regular citizens who have more capacity to pay for the collection of their refuse. (A final proposal on these implementations will need to be submitted to cabinet for approval.)

At the public consultation at the Cayo Welcome Center, a member of the public asked about the plans to create more awareness to members of the public about the project to improve on garbage collection. Mr. Gilroy Lewis, the Director of the Solid Waste Management Authority and Project Director of the Solid Waste Management Project was present and responded that public education is ongoing, with visits to schools also on the agenda. Eulojio Cano, a member of the audience also made known his position on the collection of garbage: we know that this project had to come one day. We are trying to advance the way we live. The Mayor [of San Ignacio and Santa Elena] has done a beautiful job; the collection of the household garbage is not being paid. We have to pay…I hope you have an education campaign, we have to show people why we have to collect so much, we have to convince our people that garbage has to be collected.

The success of any tariff implementation for the collection of garbage in the Western Corridor would guarantee more transfer stations for garbage, more compactor trucks and more incinerators and more can be demanded from the Solid Waste Management Authority say its leaders. It would also allow for the Government to do both a Northern Corridor and a Southern Corridor to allow for the transfer of garbage to a landfill in an environmentally sound manner.

“…so hence the reason why we need to go to the people so that we could take up a responsibility because we are the ones who generate garbage, so in order for these facilities to be sustainable we have to pay for it otherwise we can just continue living with dump-sites,” summed up Gilroy Lewis.