PHILIPSBURG – Member of Parliament Tamara Leonard launched an unprecedented attack on Claudius Buncamper, head of infrastructure management at the VROMI-ministry, during Wednesday’s central committee meeting about the fires at the dump on Pond Island.
Without mentioning Buncamper’s name Leonard, a member of the UP-faction said that minister Miklos Giterson has to “address the issue of the director of maintenance at the VROMI-department.
“If we allow this to continue for the sake of all kinds of kickbacks under the umbrella of smokescreens of saving money we have a problem,” the MP said.
“Minister, you could be a hero,” she continued. “Everybody in this room knows the truth. We have to get rid of the king that reigns over garbage in this country.”
That something stinks at the landfill and the management thereof became clear from remarks made by several MPs, but also from statements towards the end of the meeting by Minister Emil Lee (Public Health, Social Development and Labor).
Lee reacted to a remark by NA-MP Rodolphe Samuel who had put his finger on the cause of the current landfill fires: garbage remains uncovered. “There is a relation between garbage, fill and oxygen,” Samuel said. If the garbage is sufficiently covered it won’t catch fire. And the garbage was not covered.”
Minister Lee acknowledged that a lot of garbage remains uncovered. The contract with the company that manages the landfill, Robelto, expired in December and was hastily renewed for another year by the outgoing government – without revising the terms of reference, Lee said.
In February of last year, SOAB – the government accountant bureau – produced an evaluation about the dump management and it concluded that there are quite some shortcomings in the terms of reference report. “The renewal of the contract without revising the terms of reference is a direct contributor to the situation we are in today,” Lee said. “Now we are looking at another year of this kind of behavior.”
The minister highlighted several oddities from the terms of reference. The contract stipulates for instance that the contractor has to provide 400 yards of soil per week.
“To guarantee that the garbage is properly covered the amount of soil provided should be in direct relation to the amount of garbage that is dumped,” Lee said. “Setting a fixed amount of soil to cover the garbage is insufficient; then you’ll have a large amount of garbage that remains uncovered and is therefore prime for rodents, pests and fires. This was not addressed and that is why the country is suffering.”
Another requirement is to have 24/7 security – a stipulation designed to prevent arson. The terms of reference also instruct the contractor to have a minimum of eight security cameras in place. “I have not seen any security footage so I question whether the security protocol was in place,” Lee said.
The minister also mentioned a third requirement: the contractor must have a comprehensive health, safety and emergency plan in place. Lee: “That has not been put in place.”
MP Theo Heyliger noted that there had been two bids for the landfill management: one for roughly 5 million and one for half that price. That low bid won the contract and Heyliger said that the country is now getting what it is paying for.
Photo caption: Dump sites continue to smolder while smoke covers the Philipsburg city. Photo by Milton Pieters.
Source: StMaartenNews http://stmaartennews.com/parliament/mp-leonard-links-buncamper-kickbacks/