Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 30th 2013 Contents A8
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt June 30, 2013
It will cost an estimated $8.2 bil-
lion for the Government to create
two landfills---one in Trinidad, the
other in Tobago---to deal with our
growing waste management prob-
Dr Ahmad Khan, the director of
the Basel Convention Regional Cen-
tre for Training and Technology
Transfer for the Caribbean, said this
figure excludes waste diversion,
which is the prevention and reduc-
tion of generated waste through
source reduction, recycling, reuse
Failure to reduce waste in the
environment, Khan said, can cost
the Government ten times more
with its health bill because the
exposure citizens face manifests in
prolonged illnesses and diseases.
Khan, who participated in the
United Nations Environment Pro-
gramme second Caribbean media
training workshop in Suriname, said
that governments in the Caribbean
were lacking the political will to
deal with waste management, which
has become a growing and worrying
Fifteen journalists from 11
Caribbean countries engaged in the
three-day workshop, which con-
cluded on June 19.
Khan s statement comes days
after Local Government Minister
Suruj Rambachan said that the Gov-
ernment was looking at the closure
of Trinidad s four landfills---
Beetham, Forres Park, Guanapo and
Rambachan did not give a time
frame for the closure of the landfills,
but he admitted that Cabinet had
accepted a draft national integrated
solid waste policy.
Government has had to battle for
years with fires and smoke that
emanated from the landfills into
communities and workplaces.
Rambachan disclosed that the
Government had received several
proposals from interested investors
who want to manage the landfills.
Khan, who played an integral part
in the development and setting up
of the model for the St Kitts and
Nevis landfill in 2002, said that
government paid US$3.4 million for
a ten-year integrated approach to
waste management. This was based
on a population of 48,000 citizens.
Using a similar equation for
Trinidad, Khan said to consolidate
our four landfills it will cost $7, 249,
769, 537, based on a population of
1.1 million, over a 25-year period.
Khan estimated the annual oper-
ating cost of the landfill at
This figure excludes waste diver-
sion. Khan said his calculation could
be 15 per cent less.
The operating cost will involve
collecting and dumping of waste,
cost of labourers, equipment,
upkeep of the landfill and security
Tobago, on the other hand, Khan
said, is projected to cost
$988,604,937 based on a population
of 150,000 over 25 years, with no
"The next step for us (Trinidad)
is not to build more landfills but to
Need for an
The best site for Trinidad s landfill,
Khan said, is adjacent to Forres Park
in Claxton Bay.
"The soil conditions there are con-
ducive to putting in a proper land-
Khan could not give a proposed
site for Tobago.
To generate financing, Khan said
the Government could source a loan
from the IDB or venture into a pub-
lic/private sector investment, with
the Government supplying the land,
legislation, moratorium and tax
incentives.The private sector can
inject the money as well as manage
and upkeep the landfill, he said.
He said a way forward was not to
have a big landfill but a "waste seg-
regation and recycling" programme.
"It has to be done the same way
we do an investment strategy for oil
and gas projects...with the same con-
Should the Government take this
route, Khan suggested they impose
a monthly $10 garbage collection fee
per household to generate revenue.
He calculated that it costs the
Government $45 per day to remove
waste from one household.
"Right now people s garbage is
collected for free. In order to really
make this thing work profitably peo-
ple would have to pay for garbage
collection services," he said.
"This is what former finance
minister Karen Tesheira was trying
to say, the cost of services govern-
ment provide to citizens has to be
Lacking political will
Khan said there was need to look
at a collaborative approach for inte-
grated waste management at a sub
Noting there were opportunities
for the Caribbean to collaborate on
waste management, Khan said the
conference to parties, especially
Basel, stipulates that waste could
help stimulate economic activity by
doing sub regional and regional recy-
These conventions all represent
international treaties dealing with
international trade and shipment of
certain hazardous chemicals and
"If those delegates sign those con-
ventions and agree to those decisions
and the politicians are not under-
standing that, then the message is
not getting back to them," he said.
To compound matters, Khan said
legislation was not in place to man-
age T&T s waste.
Khan said while the Environment
Management Authority has been
developing solid and hazardous waste
rules, which would set the legislative
agenda, the policy agenda is not
there. "What is our policy on waste?
How do we regard waste? It is just
garbage or a resource? It is a cost to
the taxpayer, or is it something we
put out of sight and out of mind?"
Khan said these critical issues
needed national debate.
"The initiatives you need at the
political level to make it a policy
directive that waste is a commodity
that can be managed better is not
in place. So under those guidelines,
I would say that the political will is
not yet there to make waste as
important as water, electricity and
telephone. Waste management is
also a public utility. It is part of the
service that is."
Why has waste management been
put on the back burner for so long?
Khan said the cost factor could
have been a deterrent.
$8b to consolidate landfills
DR AHMAD KHAN
Stephon Eligon, right, runs out of the water at Maracas Bay ahead of the competition on his way to winning the Jostlers' race during Fisherman's Day activities at the popular north coast
fishing village yesterday. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
RACE TO SHORE
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