THE Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development opened a three-day consultation process on the draft Solid Waste Management Bill, which makes provision for a Solid Waste Management Authority.
The session is being hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) and saw in attendance various stakeholders, including members of the private sector on day one, local democratic organs (LDOs) on day two and government agencies expected to be in attendance on day 3.
The consultation was facilitated by United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Legal Consultant, Fiona Handl and chaired by Director of Sanitation, Satrohan Nauth.
Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, during remarks, explained that the bill is expected to capture all the aspects of sanitation management required for a modern economy and society.
He urged the participants to modernise the way they manage their communities as there is a plan in the national budget for massive transformational development.
The minister noted that government has launched a programme to expand infrastructural development in all communities which will have a concomitant effect on sanitation management and the way in which local economies are operated.
Minister Dharamlall revealed that an aggressive road network programme has been implemented which will result in a building boom as well as an increase in the workload of each Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).
The minister spoke of the work being done in the various regions as it related to the upgrade and development of new and existing landfill sites.
“We have built quasi-landfill sites in all the regions, and we will consistently do so in every area…,” he said.
The Local Government Minister reminded the LDO participants that they are agents of the State and therefore do not have the authority to impose fees or raise taxes.
The bill specifically makes provision for the prohibition of the imposition of fees to cover the cost of waste disposal at the community level. He detailed that government would deal with the heavy lifting when it comes to the operational costs associated with sanitation management.
“Overseers must advise the council to come up with a work programme that will serve the best interest of the communities. They are not to be dealing with management, but they should be setting the policy framework.”
The bill covers penalties, enforcement, public education and the age-old issue of how to treat with household, commercial, medical and industrial waste including coconut waste, glass bottles, refrigerators and other electrical appliances, old tyres, derelict vehicles etc.
During the interactive session, Handl detailed that the objective is to harmonise all the fragmented pieces of legislation relating to sanitation management in one place.
As it is, Guyana currently has the Municipal District Council Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Public Health Ordinance, and various other regulations that speak to waste management.
The aim of the bill is also to reduce the dependence on landfilling and embrace more modern technology and alternative means of waste management.
The bill proposes the establishment of a Solid Waste Management Authority which will operate as a body corporate and would be responsible for permits, licences, operational certification etc.
Some of the key suggestions coming out of the forum were to ensure that licensing is hinged on a company’s ability to incorporate recycling techniques into their management plans and the examination of converting of coconut waste into bio-energy to effectively deal with waste.
The Sanitation Management Bill was initially drafted in 2014 and is currently being reviewed before it is sent back to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to be taken to Parliament.