By Vanessa Braithwaite-Moore
Several members of tourism organizations and tour companies operating out of the mining town of Linden, have called out the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LMTC), which is the regulatory body for solid waste management, for allowing the garbage situation at the Kara Kara dumpsite access road, to get completely out of control. Now the mountain of garbage is a terrible eyesore to tourists and visitors participating in tours at Linden’s tourism hot spot- the Kara Kara blue lake, which is just a stone’s throw from the mountain of garbage.
Up to the time this report has been published, the access road is completely impassable because of the garbage. A photo seen by this media house, showed a LMTC garbage collection unit, dumping garbage at the current mountain of garbage. The photo was taken on Tuesday, October 19th at 11:53 hrs. Over the last few days, photos and videos of the mountain of garbage, made rounds on social media. “You are damaging one of the best tourism products in the town of Linden,” one person said.
In an interview with INFO 10, Deputy Mayor Wainwright Bethune, said that the LMTC is dumping at the site along with other garbage collection entities in Linden and private citizens. He explained that the situation at the dumpsite got out of control as a result of poor management from the administration of the council. Bethune, who is an environmentalist, explained that the current mountain of garbage is not a separate dumping ground from the actual earmarked dumpsite but because the site has not been managed over time, the dumping ground expanded to the point where it is now visible to persons traversing the area.
The Deputy Mayor said that council has been deliberating other ways to manage the site, given the council does not have the financial capacity to manage it effectively. He believes this should be taken into consideration by residents who pay less than $2000.00 in rates and taxes per year and expect services, such as garbage collection to be of high standard. Currently the dumpsite is full to capacity as a result of lack of management and financial constraints. “It will take the council about $1 M per month to manage the dumpsite so that the garbage remains at the back and not get out of control. How can we as a council do that when the monies for operational cost is exponentially higher than the revenue being raked it,” Bethune argued. “The Council will always be in a financial bind because the revenue is way below what it takes to maintain the town. One person is paying about five percent of what it takes to provide all the services for them which are street lights, roads, drainage, garbage. When we have people paying $200.00 a month on rates and $500.00 a month on market fees,” he said.
The Deputy Mayor, said an agreement was made between the LMTC, CEVON’s Waste Management and OLT Waste Management, which are two private garbage collection companies operating in Linden, to pay $100.000 per month, to manage the site and this agreement has not been honoured by the other parties, he alleged. He also said that the council met a Memorandum of Understanding with BOSAI Group Guyana, to have the site cleared monthly, but the administration of the council has not yet signed the MoU, despite the ongoing situation at the dumpsite.
When asked how the council will move forward as it relates to the dumpsite issue, the Deputy Mayor, listed several areas where the administration of the council can up revenues such as to be more proactive in collecting revenues from defaulting vendors and practice cost effective mechanisms to save money that can be transferred to solid waste management. Relative to the dumpsite itself, just recently, the council collaborated with environmentalist Mr. Samuel Wright, to develop and implement a municipal waste management strategy and plan. Part of this strategy Bethune said, is to identify a new dumpsite, that will be developed into a modern land fill.
He said the Kara Kara site was only made possible, when the council made representation for the access road to be constructed, which was done in 2016, to the tune of $18 M. After the construction of the road, it was only then that persons were able to access the blue lake that is now Linden’s most sought after attraction, but at that time, the area was earmarked for solid waste disposal. “How do we now unbundle ourselves with all the activities going on there. What we have to do now is collectively look for another location but we need to collaborate with all the stakeholders, the council cannot do it independently, we do not have the financial capacity.”
The Kara Kara Blue Lake is Linden’s hottest tourism attractive, which sees hundreds of visitors on weekends, who come to experience water sports and other aqua-tourism activities. A committee was also recently formed by the Guyana Tourism Association (GTA), to manage the affairs of the blue lake and the surrounding environment. Only a few weeks ago, the GTA secured funding for the cleaning of the access road, which was done to the tune of $1.5 M.
Tour operators are calling on the policy makers to expeditiously deal with the garbage situation. “This is one of the hottest tourism spots in Linden, people go by droves to the blue lake, you should try your utmost best to maintain cleanliness and be concerned about the place you call home,” one tour operator said.