On January 10, 2017 the Government of Belize issued a notice of the withdrawal of PASSA as the contractors managing the solid waste transfer stations. Six days later we explained that reports reaching our newsroom had indicated that their decision to give up their contract had to do with internal troubles that the Mexican group was having with its local counterpart in Belize. On February 6, Minister of State with responsibility for solid waste, Omar Figueroa was on The Morning Show where he updated us on the current situation regarding the management of the transfer stations.
“When the company ceased operations and the country was essentially brought into a state of emergency because garbage is a serious problem that we face and if its allowed to accumulate there are serious environmental consequences that can ensue. So the solid waste unit I must say is a very capable and competent unit headed by Gilroy Reece so we went into an emergency phase where we had to hire contractors to come in and help us deal with the garbage problem. Because it is an IDB project I believe it needs to internationally but we do have people locally that can handle it and right now as we speak the guys who are actually running the whole solid waste operation who are transporting stuff from San Pedro, San Ignacio and Burrel Boom they are actually locals so they should be encouraged to be a part of the whole bidding process. You do need some technical expertise but you can always when you bid establish partnerships and within that framework. We will do what we need to do to bring solid waste under control. I always tell people when we talk about Belize our garbage isn’t to the point where it is out of control for us that window of opportunity is still open where if we set the right policies and programs in place garbage will not reach to the point where it will be a national problem. The national sanitary landfill is big enough to really deal with the solid waste issue from a national perspective.”
As for the rationale behind the pulling out of PASA, Minister Figueroa says it is an explanation that can only be had by the Mexicans.
“You would need to speak to the Mexicans to understand a lot and there are some issues that are still in the court. Essentially pulled out and rescinded and said they would not be operating any longer and like I said given that solid waste is a challenge we can’t allow it to simply pile up the government and the solid waste union had to go into an emergency phase of operation.”
“So there is some court proceedings. Who is taking who to court? We are taking them or are they taking us?”
“No a lot of the internal issues that are going on with people that were operating different components are going after each other for different reasons and I probably shouldn’t get into that.”
PASA was contracted in August 2003 by the Ministry of Natural Resources to oversee the daily operations and management. Its parent company is in Monterrey, Mexico but they had assigned Ariel Mitchell as their local representative in Belize. As noted by Minister Figueroa a tender for bids will be issued by the Government to take over where PASA left off. The solid waste transfer stations service six areas, namely, San Ignacio/Santa Elena; Burrell Boom; Belize City; San Pedro and Caye Caulker and the Mile 24 Regional Sanitary Landfill.