By John Denny Observer Reporter
johndenny@thestkittsnevisobserver.com (Charlestown, Nevis) “The Solid Waste Management Authority has its first new compactor truck in a long time, thanks to Social Security. Solid Waste General Manager Carlyn Lawrence is extremely grateful and says the truck is long overdue. “This is the first new truck solid waste has received since 2000,” said Ms. Lawrence. “I can’t wait to get it dirty.” The new truck, a Mack with a Heil compactor has been ordered for several months. “These trucks are custom built,” she said. “You can’t just buy one of these off a lot somewhere. The order is put in to the Mack truck company and they build the chassis and the cab, then it is sent to Heil and they install the compactor.” The truck cost Social Security US$142,000 plus US$9,000 shipping. “We would have never been able to afford this on our own,” Ms. Lawrence said. “We can’t even afford to buy the things we need day to day, much less something this nice.” The keys to the truck were handed over to the Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Hensley Daniel by Director of the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board Mrs. Sephlin Lawrence. The ceremony of sorts was held at the Low Ground Land fill last Tuesday. The Ministry of Health, Social Security and Solid Waste are all connected, the Minister said. “”The Ministry of Health has an interest and a responsibility to ensure that workers are healthy so that when workers are healthy they will work and by working they will contribute to Social Security so this is in a way an investment in the workers of the country to ensure that they remain healthy because we want to make sure that garbage is properly disposed off and in addition to that they have an interest in the aesthetic beauty of the country. “”If the country is beautiful the visitors come. The people who work in tourism they will get more work and they will contribute to Social Security. So I want to thank them for being in that philosophical mindset. This is not something that is Social Security over here and health over there but Social Security and Health are intertwined,” he said. “In third world countries contributions of that nature are often referred to as gifts, said Minister Daniel, but the new truck is not because they were derived from workers contributions therefore they should be maintained and should be treated by those using them as though they were their own. “This truck belongs to the people and it is everyone’s responsibility to say something if you see this truck being abused or mistreated,” said the Minister The NIA through the Ministry of Health did not approach an overseas friendly country for funds to purchase the truck but instead sought to forge a long and fruitful partnership with the Social Security Board, said Minister Daniel. “What we have done is to seek to build a partnership with Social Security to see if we can do things locally and I am particularly happy that in 1978 when Social Security started I was just about beginning to work with the public service and there was so much opposition to Social Security because nobody wanted their contribution to come out. ” “”I think more than anything, the institution has demonstrated its commitment to the public. We can look around and see investments in housing, we see investment in education through scholarships and now of course as the Minister of Health, I have to make sure they tip the balance to health as well and so we look forward to a long and productive relationship with Social Security,” he said. “Chairman of the Social Security Board Mr. Halva Hendrickson said the funding came from part of the institution’s annual contribution which was made to both Nevis and St. Kitts in the health services and it was their way of giving back to the people. ” “In St. Kitts we have a similar problem where our garbage trucks have gone bad and they had to hire some private people but they have not come to ask us yet. It looks as though Nevis is more on the ball,” said Mr. Hendrickson. The new truck has a much greater capacity than the old ones the Authority has now, said Ms. Carlyn Lawrence. “Waste management is a new thing for us on these small islands. It’s a progression into keeping up with the latest technology and the latest equipment available and so we are very happy to have the truck and we want to say thank you and give you our assurance that we will do everything that we can to take good care of it and keep it going for as many years as we can keep it going for. “”We got this truck because we needed the size, the island (population) is growing and there is expansion everyday. With this bigger truck, we can clean an entire parish without having to make a second trip. We are going to ensure that responsible people drive it and that we take good care of what has been offered to us,” she said. “Maintenance problems plague the Authority and thwart its attempts to make regular trash pick-ups. “When the trash doesn’t get picked up, it is usually because we have had a maintenance problem,” she said. “I get complaints from people thinking we are not running the routes, but that is not the case. It is almost always because our equipment has broken down.” Certain neighborhoods have become rather unsightly messes around trash barrels. “We have some problem areas” in Ramsbury and Hamilton and I am not sure how to address the problem,” she said. “Trash cans get knocked over by donkeys or the trash spills into the street and that is a problem, but everyone needs to assume some responsibility. If you have to walk over trash to get to your barrel, don’t expect Solid Waste to pick it up. Everyone needs to own this problem and not expect us to solve it alone.” It is a law that everyone has a trash receptacle. A steel drum from Nevlec costs $25. Horsfords has good plastic ones for about $160 and Ms. Lawrence said the plastic ones are preferred because they last longer and they are much easier on the collection employees. “If you decide to get a steel drum, it needs to have holes punched in the bottom and setting it up on blocks or a couple of boards will allow it to drain and last much longer,” she said. “If people have old steel drums that are starting to fall apart, they need to be replaced. The jagged edges can cause injuries during collection.” The Authority is still looking for corporate sponsors to help replace plastic shopping bags with reusable bags. “Reusable bags would greatly reduce the litter problem we have on Nevis,” she said.