Carapo residents go weeks without garbage collection

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Bags of garbage outside homes on Race Course Road, Carapo, Arima on February 15. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

RESIDENTS of Carapo, Arima have not had their garbage collected for over two weeks.

Newsday was told sanitation workers responsible for garbage collection in the area were robbed and badly beaten.

Solid Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL) confirmed that they do not collect garbage in that area.

A resident who did not want to be identified told Newsday via phone that while the disruption has affected the community, she and other residents do not blame the workers for taking a stance.

“What could they possibly get from robbing those garbage men? They right, don’t pick up any rubbish.”

She said she and her husband have been taking their garbage to a bin in Trincity and acknowledged the unpleasant sight of garbage throughout the community, saying it has also caused an infestation of insects and rodents.

“Well, we as a community need to do something because the only people we hurt are our own selves.”

Councillor for Carapo, Derek La Guerre, said he spoke to residents of Carapo and the contractor, saying despite not knowing what happened, he believes, “A lot of what the contractor is saying isn’t making sense.”

La Guerre said the contractor’s job is to collect garbage from 5 am to 3 pm every day.

“It is alleged they got robbed right and while I sympathise and empathise with the workers, what has happened to their responsibility to fulfil their contract with the corporation?”

He said if the incident did take place, he hoped workers made a report it to the police.

“In terms of what they have been contracted to do. And I will say right now that today (Wednesday), it has been two weeks since garbage has been collected in the area. As a councillor for the area, I have taken pen to paper to voice my concern. I have been in contact with the CEO of the corporation, Kafi Chapman, the health department, chairman Josiah Austin and MP for the area on ways to resolve this.”

In the phone interview with Newsday on Wednesday, he said stakeholders were still having discussions with the chairman and the contractor.

Bags of garbage outside a home on Jokhan Trace Extension, Carapo, Arima on February 15. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

“The garbage hasn’t been picked up for the longest. I have documented the situation on my phone every single day through videos and messages. I, along with members of the corporation, have walked throughout the area to verify the service is not being provided.”

Asked if he had spoken with the police about the situation. La Guerres said it was not his office’s place to do so.

“If a situation like that in fact occurs, it is the responsibility of the contractor to notify the corporation that there is an issue.”

He said he was informed the contractor notified the corporation about the robbery.

“He (the contractor) said he came to the corporation and reported the incident. I’m just saying what I have been told, and I understand the corporation asked for evidence, but up to today (Wednesday), he did not produce any.”

He added while he was not disregarding the fact something happened to sanitation workers, he said all stakeholders are working on a contingency plan until the matter can be resolved.

“The corporation will determine what the next step is, but to say what the immediate solution is, I can’t say at this time.”

Chairman of the Tunapuna Piarco Regional Corporation, Josiah Austin, said in a WhatsApp conversation with Newsday on Wednesday that he was aware of the “irregular garbage collection services” taking place and that he, along with the corporation’s CEO, contractor and council, are working towards a resolution.

“We are working together with all our stakeholders to resolve this issue expediently. We’ve been in contact with both contractors and residents and we are putting together solutions to urgently treat the situation.”

Bags of garbage outside a home on Race Course Road, Carapo, Arima on February 15. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

While he did not go into details about any interim plans, he extended his apology to the community for the inconvenience and said the issue would be resolved soon.

When Newsday visited the area on Thursday, some residents had resorted to burning their garbage heaps, in response to the lack of garbage collection. This was seen in the community opposite the Santa Rosa Race Track.

Residents also said that in response to mounting pressure, the contractor, escorted by police, had collected garbage in some areas of the community, while garbage remained in other areas.