The Central Abaco Landfill may soon receive much needed attention after years of being allowed to deteriorate into a poorly managed dump site.
In what has become an embarrassing situation over the past several years since Central Government took the authority of providing maintenance away from the Central Abaco District Council, Minister of the Environment Romauld Ferreira said that the Government plans to “replicate” the New Providence landfill solution across the Bahamas, with one Cabinet Minister urging: “We must stop this ‘dumping in the bush’ culture.”
Mr. Ferreira said that four bids were submitted for a New Providence landfill contract that he described as the first step in “revolutionising” solid waste management practices and developing a management plan for the entire country.
Speaking after returning from an assessment of Abaco’s landfill in April, he said that facility needed to go through “a similar exercise” to New Providence’s facility in terms of deconstruction and remediation.
He confirmed that the four bidders to submit complete proposals are Bahamas WTP Ltd; Bahamas Waste; Providence Advisors and the Waste Resources Development Group (WRDG); and APAPA International (Nassau).
The bidders have submitted a variety of solutions for New Providence’s waste management crisis. APAPA International’s offer was said to have included a $400 million waste-to-energy gasification plant, with Bahamas Waste understood to have provided its own waste-to-energy proposal valued at around $150 million. The Providence Advisors/WRDG was said to be priced at between $60-$120 million, with waste-to-energy “optional” and at the higher end of that price scale.
It is unclear at this time which solution is favoured and how exactly it will be implemented in relation to Abaco’s situation; whether a waste-to-energy plant is even feasible with the volume of waste in Abaco.
“We fully expected some heterogeneous-type solutions that included a mixture of revenue streams, and reasonable businessmen want to take advantage of every potential revenue stream,” he said.
While New Providence’s landfill required urgent attention due to the health and environmental risks it poses to thousands of Bahamians, Mr. Ferreira said its remediation was part of a much bigger strategy to overhaul similar facilities in the Family Islands and transform the country’s waste management culture.
“Going through this process for the New Providence Sanitary Landfill essentially makes a generational change in the way the landfill is run, and is part of the Minnis administration’s greater mandate to revolutionise solid waste management in the entire Bahamas,” Mr. Ferreira said.
“It’s so important for us to get this [RFP] process right. I know people want a quick fix, but it couldn’t be a quick fix. We intend, once we go through this process, to replicate it in other islands.”
He expressed hope that landfill upgrades, and improved education, would help to change a culture involving the indiscriminate dumping of wrecked vehicles, heavy-duty consumer appliances and other waste materials that has blighted many parts of the Bahamas.
“One of the issues we want to deal with is change this culture of dumping in the bush,” Mr. Ferreira told Tribune Business. “There’s this dumping in the bush culture that comes from somewhere, and we need to change that.
“We need these waste management solutions to be a part of that, and show people they have a reasonable, reliable and affordable alternative to that. This is part of a broader strategy; we can’t just fix New Providence and ignore the Family Islands. They are all ticking timebombs.
“The reason I say that is a lot of these things are a function of population size, and these islands are going to continue to grow. It may not be in your or my lifetime, but there will come a day when the population of this country is a million people.”
Mr. Ferreira said “dynamic” waste management solutions, which were “sustainable and a fit for the island communities and settlements involved”, are required for each Bahamian island. They also needed to be part of development strategies for each island.
“We’ve turned our sights to Abaco,” he reiterated. “New Providence has been quite a challenge; those intermittent fires were the biggest environmental challenge the country was facing, followed a close second by Clifton Pier.”