Statement by Honourable Eugene Hamilton, Minister of Health on Launch of Bin Distribution Project

Tuesday, 10th March 2020

Fellow citizens, I am happy to come to you at this time to formally announce a ground-breaking programme that is being introduced by the Ministry of Health through the Solid Waste Management Corporation (SWMC), which also falls within my portfolioto promote good environmental practices, healthy lifestyles and cleaner communities.

You may recall that in September 2018, the Ministry of Health, with the Solid Waste Management Corporation, (SWMC), initiated a National Clean Up Campaign that was followed by a programme to remove derelict vehicles from all rural villages and urban centers.

The Corporation then moved into providing amnesty to owners of derelict vehiclesresulting in numerous old vehicles being removed from our streets and empty plots of land around the island. This initiative is continuing and to date we have exported over 7 million pounds of scrap metal from our country.

You will also recall that at that time we unveiled a new collection model that divided the island of St. Kitts into 27 zones and we purchased three new 20 yards compactor trucks to carry out the collection functions. Within each zone, collection days were increased, from what was a sporadic delivery of service, to a twice weekly rotation.

Both activities were inaugural actions of the SWMC’s FIVE POINT STRATEGIC PLAN to improve the overall efficiency and integrity of its waste collection and disposal services. The strategic plans were designed to transform the management of solid waste in St. Kitts.

My fellow citizens, there is no doubt that the process of waste collection and disposal in this country is about to enter a revolutionary era.

It is therefore in line with these strategic goals, that The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis through the Solid Waste Management Corporation, is finalizing its schedule to launch the Free National Bin Distribution Programme.

Yes! FREE, I repeat, FREE, distribution of some 12,000 standardized bins to EVERY single household across the nine (9) parishes in St. Kitts.

The Bin Distribution Programme is our THIRD Phase, and this, when completed, would eventually transition into Phases 4 and 5. Phase 4 will involve a Waste to Energy Plant that will minimize the waste that is being deposited at our landfill and then in Phase 5, we will introduce a National Recycling Programme.

The Solid Waste Management Corporation will serve as the executing agency for this project. The distribution is scheduled to start on Monday, 16th March 2020 and will run for a six-week period. Each household will be presented with one (1) 65-gallon bin.

These will not be ordinary receptacles, though I must admit, on first appearance, they may look that way. These will be SMART Bins, outfitted with modern technology to enhance our collection system and customer service.

The internationally recognized and standardized safety color of yellow will also be featured for visibility, easier identification and accountability. They will have customized branding with the logo of the Solid Waste Management Corporation along with important information to guide your disposal practices.

Fellow citizens and residents, the bins are designed with unique barcodes and serial numbers to facilitate easier distribution and inventory control. Proper labelling detailing Items that are permitted and those that are prohibited will be listed to direct you.

As a measure to prevent theft and other illegal activity, the movement of all bins will be tracked by the SWMC, who would be in a position to determine if any bin is out of service or has been illegally removed from the premises to which it was allocated.

The trucks will be outfitted with new equipment that will lift the bins, emptying them into the vehicles thus making the process of garbage collection so much more efficient and thereby increasing the level of service that we provide to our residents.

It is generally accepted that the present system is very tedious, labour intensive and obviously causes injuries to our collection workers, who have to struggle with overloaded and smelly bins. So, we were determined that we needed to find a solution. Thankfully we have now found one.

Therefore, from the month of March, we will commence the phasing out of heavy lifting.

No longer would our collectors, some of whom are women, have to manually lift your bins to empty into the trucks, because your Team Unity Government has found a solution for this long outstanding problem.

This project will bring uniformity to the collection process of the Solid Waste Management Corporation and will also align the national objectives that are reflective of a greater sensitivity to critical issues of health and the environment.

It will improve the sanitary conditions and provide an excellent opportunity for citizens to properly store their waste, prior to collection days.

The Bin Distribution Project shall also help to maintain our nation’s reputation as the cleanest tourist destination in the region.

At the same time, it shall assist in changing behavioral patterns of citizens by allowing them the opportunity to have and use their own bins, to ensure that their household waste is properly disposed of with the required consistency.

When we assumed office in 2015, it became very evident that after so many decades of using the archaic system of collection, we had to make significant changes. These changes we recognized, however, had to be rolled out in phases, thus our five-point plan.

This will be the first time that such an initiative is being implemented anywhere in the Caribbean, though similar waste management interventions are well known in Europe and parts of North America.

And what we are about to do further demonstrates that this Government is visionary, and never afraid to be the first in the Caribbean to pursue new programmes and initiatives, once we are convinced that they would redound to the benefit of our people.

And that is why this caring and progressive Team Unity Administration has deemed it necessary to invest US$2.5 Million to make this project a reality.

Any responsible government accepts that it has a primary duty to ensure that its citizens live in an environment that is clean and healthy.

This is a proud moment for St. Kitts as we continue to be innovative in delivering meaningful social programmes, as part of our agenda to achieve prosperity for all.

There is no doubt, that our government is continuing to fulfill its responsibilities to cater to the needs of all citizens.

The Ministry of Health and the Team Unity Government are confident that this programme will positively impact the lives of citizens socially, economically, culturally and medically.

This is a development that we should all be excited about.

So, as the Ministry prepares to roll out this project, a massive public relations campaign is being designed to help in the process of education and awareness of homeowners and the general public.

In subsequent media announcements, our team will roll out the schedule of distribution for each community.

As I close, I wish to thank the Board of Directors and the Management and Staff at the Solid Waste Management Corporation, for the invaluable support and facilitation being provided as our executing agency.

Fellow citizens, I urge your fullest cooperation and assistance in the roll out of the Bin Distribution Plan.

God Bless You and Thank You!