On Friday 21st February, 2014, The Management of the Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL) met with a number of key stakeholders with regards to the recent fires at the Beetham Landfill. The main objective of this meeting was to inform all stakeholders of SWMCOL’s immediate action plan to minimize the reoccurrence of such fires as well as to present the Company’s medium to long term plans for a sustainable solution to the perennial problem of landfill fires. This plan provides for the introduction of modern waste management systems using state of the art technological solutions.
SWMCOL also sought to engage key stakeholders in understanding the full impact of the fires on their operations so that adequate provision can be made in its planning process to alleviate the problems experienced.
Representatives of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA), Trinidad & Tobago National Petroleum Marketing Company (NP), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Energy, both the Port of Spain and San Juan / Laventille Disaster Management Units, and The Office of Disaster and Preparedness (ODPM) responded to the invitation and were in attendance.
The SWMCOL Team was led by the company’s Chairperson, Ms Nalini Sooklal and its CEO, Mr Sharma Lalla.
In his contribution, Mr Lalla first apologized for the unfortunate series of events which had led to his decision to call the meeting, and then launched into a brief PowerPoint presentation that outlined the company’s proposed plan of action. This included significant investments in technology driven security equipment as well as the creation of a fully engineered landfill site prior to the closure and rehabilitation of the Beetham Landfill. Mr Lalla expressed his confidence that these plans would not only reduce the risk of fire but would also help to reduce the amount of waste being buried at the landfill.
Post the CEO’s presentation, there was a spirited discussion involving all persons in attendance. The President of DOMA, Mr Gregory Aboud, in particular, wished to make it known how much his organization appreciated and welcomed any initiative on the part of SWMCOL which sought to ameliorate an age-old issue.
Representatives also made the observation that the landfill fires are really a manifestation of a much deeper socio-economic problem facing the residents of East Port of Spain, the solution to which is beyond the remit of SWMCOL.
All told, there was a healthy exchange of ideas which, as the CEO noted in his summation, would help to inform the nature of the proposal which he hoped to have submitted to the line minister in the coming weeks.
The meeting which began at 10.15AM was then concluded at 12.05PM.