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Sep 1, 2021

CitCo & Belize Waste Control Trash It Out over Pickups & Payment

The plans to start charging residents in Belize City for garbage collection come on the heels of the council being almost a million dollars in arrears with Belize Waste Control Limited. They are the contractor which, for years, has had a contentious relationship with the Council over non-payment. This time around, the Belize City Council is at a record twenty weeks of outstanding payments to BWCL. News Five’s Duane Moody hears from both sides.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Over a million dollars in arrears are owed by the Belize City Council to Belize Waste Control Limited for twenty weeks’ worth of garbage collection. That is a lot of money, for a lot of trash.


George Lamb, Manager, Belize Waste Control

“Belize City Council has been behind in its payment. However, Waste Control has been understanding over the last few months. We continued to provide the service, as usual, however, when it lapsed into twenty-week non-payment then that begins to affect our ability to provide the service efficiently to the residents of Belize.”


When the council announced garbage collection schedules were being reduced to just once a week for the north and south sides of Belize City, BWC Manager, George Lamb, was shocked.


George Lamb

“That was surprising to us because we have not discussed any change of schedule when it comes to garbage collection with the mayor or any personnel from the Belize City Council. That is the thing that is daunting because we had expected some sit-down with the mayor and officials from the city in order for us to understand their challenges. We have been bending over quite a while in order for us to provide the service because it is an essential service. However, when there is a deafening silence from City Council as to what we do now given the challenges they are facing begs all kinds of conclusion.”


Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Belize City Mayor

“We can’t cut the schedule and we did have the conversation at the C.E.O. level. I did have a conversation at the C.E.O. level last week Friday and that was part of the discussion. Sometime between the end of that discussion and during the course of the weekend and the current week, that may have changed. But I have to be held accountable to the people.”


It’s the record number of outstanding payments owed to the contractor. But according to Mayor Bernard Wagner, the non-payment has been due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has been affecting its revenue collection. Tax collection are down to fifty-two percent and the Mayor defines it is as a cascading effect.


Bernard Wagner

“Which organization isn’t feeling the effects of the pandemic? Belize City Council obviously is feeling the effect of having the fact that you have thirty-one million dollars out there in property taxes does not help the situation. But the truth of the matter is that many people lost their jobs and so I can appreciate the fact that those individuals and property owners may not be in the position to pay their property taxes and so we find ourselves as a city council down thirty-one million. You can’t blame anyone. The provider has its own challenges as well and as I said earlier, we have our challenges, the residents have their challenges, the government has their challenges. I can’t turn to the government and ask them to bail us out.”


The effects of garbage being left overnight and strewn over the streets after dogs rummage through the receptacles are already being felt in communities across the city.  And before it gets out of hand, what’s the solution to the city’s garbage woes?


Bernard Wagner

“In the past, we were able to access our overdraft; that has been maxed out as well, given the COVID we have been in this thing eighteen months. Cash flow is not the same. And so, we are telling our provider that we expect things to change in November, December, January.”


George Lamb

George Lamb

“We are trying to do the best with what we got. It is an essential service and we are trying to do the downtown area, prioritize what we do out there. So it is a slight change in the collection, however, we continue to commit ourselves to the regular schedule of picking up the garbage from the residents of Belize City twice a week.   I’m hoping that we can have a formal discussion with the mayor and the city official as to how we will go forward and handle this situation.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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