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‘Unprecedented’ issues hinder trash pick-up

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Piling up: trash collection has been affected by “unprecedented” mechanical issues (File photograph)

“Unprecedented” mechanical issues have hindered trash collection across the Island according to Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, but efforts are under way to restore normal service.

He said the Bermuda Government had been working closely with the unions to help get trucks back on the road.

“In normal circumstances, we have somewhere in the order of 12 trucks on the road,” Mr Cannonier said.

“We have been working with only eight or nine trucks because of major, major issues of the trucks breaking down.

“What has happened recently is that those issues have been compounded to the point where we are down to four or five trucks this week. That is unheard of.

“That is unprecedented for us, having that many trucks off the road. It means that there is no way to service all the zones across the Island without major, major overtime.”

Mr Cannonier said his ministry had been able to get another four trucks back on the road, increasing the total back to eight, and had been working with the unions to find a way to speed up the repair process. As part of the discussions, he said the unions had agreed to let the ministry take broken vehicles to unionised mechanics outside of the ministry.

“This is important because it’s going to help us make some headway,” Mr Cannonier said, thanking the unions and the workers within the ministry for their hard work.

He said other ways of addressing the trash collection issue were being considered, including potentially borrowing collection vehicles from other bodies, such as the City of Hamilton.

Discussions are also under way to potentially extend the drop-off hours at the Tynes Bay waste-to-energy facility to help the public dispose of household waste.

Asked if the ministry would be able to inform the public about delays in trash collection more quickly, Mr Cannonier said the nature of the mechanical problems often made it difficult.

“We are finding that things will look OK in the morning and the trucks will go out and then they break down in the middle of the day,” he said. “Three or four trucks every given day. That is why I am asking the public to be patient with us.”

Mr Cannonier said it was unlikely that the ministry would be able to buy new trash trucks in the near future given economic constraints, but he noted that a number of the vehicles in the fleet had been purchased as recently as 2012.

“This is a real problem,” he said.

“How is it that all of these trucks are now having major, major problems after just three years?”

Breaking down: Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, said there are only eight or nine trucks on the road instead of 12 (File photograph by Akil Simmons)