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Landfill reform progressing

The New Providence Landfill has been a problem across various administrations. When it ignited in March last year no one could put all the blame on the then governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).

That fire was one of the worst at the site. The nearby Jubilee Gardens community was evacuated. Flames and smoke damaged homes.

The Minnis administration promised to find a solution to the problem. It seems serious. The government has chosen a company to operate the landfill, Minister of Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira said on Tuesday, though he did not reveal the company. It needed to be notified and Cabinet has to release its conclusion to his ministry.

“Government wants to see generational change,” said the environment minister.

“This has been a long-term issue that’s been going on at the New Providence sanitary landfill. We want to see the deconstruction, remediation and proper operation and management of the New Providence sanitary landfill to the extent that fire incidents are minimized, if not happening at all.”

A landfill assessment by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in April 2017 concluded that it is an “urgent public health hazard” and presents a “chronic health risk” for workers and surrounding communities.

Ferreira said recycling, waste-to-energy production and tipping fees would be likely revenue sources at the landfill.

Three companies were shortlisted following the government’s assessment process: Bahamas WTP Ltd., Bahamas Waste Limited and Providence Advisors.

A fourth company, Apapa International (Nassau) Ltd., was disqualified. According to the minister, it failed to meet a deadline.

The government has allocated $13 million to cover costs associated with the soon-to-be landfill agreement. The Bahamian people are prepared for reform and will accept reasonable costs associated with fixing the site. The health, well-being and lives of citizens and visitors are at stake.

The Baha Mar resort is close to the landfill. It expects to employ 5,000 people by the end of the year. The business would not survive if landfill fires continue.

“It is our heartfelt desire that the improvements soon to be implemented will comprehensively address, once and for all, the ongoing concerns that have made the New Providence sanitary landfill a serious national priority,” Ferreira said.

The landfill releases life-threatening toxins and chemicals into the air and ground. This needs to stop. We hope the right company has been selected and that the government ensures over the long term that it hits its targets.

Fixing the landfill is something all Bahamians agree, regardless of party affiliation, is long overdue.

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