Opposition lawmaker and former chief executive of the Central Water and Sewage Authority (CWSA), Daniel Cummings, has accused the state-owned company of illegally charging disconnected consumers a solid waste management fee.
Speaking last Thursday on the “New Times” programme on NICE Radio,
Cummings said the CWSA could charge a customer for solid waste management only if the customer has a CWSA water connection.
“If you are a disconnected consumer, you are not liable to pay solid waste fee because you do not have a contract with the CWSA for supplying water. When you are reconnected you now have a contract again. That is the spirit and intent of the law,” the West Kingstown MP said.
“When you are disconnected, the CWSA continues to charge the solid waste fee and I’ve said to them repeatedly, it is illegal. If you want to do that, there is a simple solution, go to Parliament and change the law,” Cummings said.
“Only those powers vested in the act that created the CWSA and the regulations coming out of it can determine what the CWSA can or cannot do”.
Cummings said: “When you pay the solid waste environmental fee, you are benefiting from having St. Vincent and the Grenadines clean. We are a tourist destination; we need to make sure that our garbage is properly disposed of. We still have a lot of work to do; too much garbage ends up in the streams and in the sea”.
He said Vincentians would have suffered had it not been for the CWSA collecting and properly transporting solid waste to the various landfills in the country.
He said that people are in the habit of disposing garbage anywhere, adding that in West Kingstown, it is “horrible to look at” a drain that leads into the sea at Rose Place that is filled with styrofoam, plastic and other debris.
Cummings said that the environmental fees collected do not cover the cost of solid waste management.
“Solid waste is not only about collecting waste. The CWSA has to employ persons to collect, transport, dispose and to sort and properly cover it in the sanitary landfill, taking out the very toxic stuff and setting aside specific treatment for them, recycling materials, producing compost, woodchips, etc.
“It’s a very expensive operation and I want persons to understand that the fee is not just about collecting waste,” Cummings said.
CWSA customers in St. Vincent pay a monthly EC$11 as environmental fee while residents of Grenadine islands of Canouan, Union Island and Bequia are charged EC$10 per consumer per month.
Each Grenadines island has its own landfill while there are two on St. Vincent.