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Secretaries Answers to Questions


28. MINORITY COUNCILLOR (Mrs. P. Daniel-Benoit) asked the Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection:

“As it relates to the incinerators at the Scarborough   General Hospital and the old Hospital Facility at Fort King George, can the   Secretary indicate the following:

(a) Whether the   incinerators are operational at this time?

(b) What is the   management plan for the safe disposal of biohazardous waste in the absence of   incinerators?”

     Madam Presiding Officer, I am actually surprised that the   pile up of waste that I highlighted to the Tobago public in 2020 - when we   got the impression that the pile up was a simple, easy little thing that they   were taking care of, because there were some new micro wave/shredders/   incinerators that were coming - it was to my surprise, when we got into power,   that we recognized that what was reported in 2020 was actually just the tip   of the iceberg. That had actually represented quite a large volume of   biohazardous waste that had been piling up. Since then, the piles and piles   and piles have actually been increasing. There are four   incinerators/shredders currently at the Tobago Regional Health Authority   (TRHA). One is a CP50 that currently is not functional. The other is a CP30   that is partially functional, but it is currently not being used because   quite frankly, the large pile up of biohazardous waste around it, if they   start incinerating with it there, it can actually cause an explosion.

     The other two shredders are the shredders that they spoke about in 2020, one of which was purchased and installed in 2020.The other was purchased sometime and was installed early 2022, and after they   installed those shredders, they recognized that they were actually   not doing what whoever purchased them thought that they would do. But they   were actually just chipping up the stuff that is put in them, and when they   chipped up the stuff that is put in them, it is not chipped finely enough to   then be disposed of, so it still has to be incinerated. So there are two   machines that cannot actually do what they should have done and we still need   to do incinerating.

Given all of this, the plan included:

    1. Procurement of a new   incinerator

That process is actually   happening now, where the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) is sending   out requests for proposals and bidders are coming in and so forth.

    2. To treat with the   pileup that is there now, what we have done was actually rent an incinerator.

Before we have to   go into any supplemental questions, it is a shenandoah portable incinerator.   It has the capacity to incinerate a hundred and thirty pounds (1301bs) per   hour. We are renting it at a cost of two hundred and eighty-eight thousand   dollars ($288,000) per month. The initial contract is for three months and we are hoping that with that being rented - and it includes a couple staff members - within the first month or two, we can clear up what is actually sitting there now. The new one that is coming is not anywhere here yet, so we can actually use that to treat with the waste that will be coming from the Scarborough Hospital, the Roxborough Health Facility and all of the health centres throughout the island.

     To facilitate that system, we actually had to do quite a   bit of moving around and reconfiguring up at the old Fort where the   incinerators are right now. I am told that that rental facility will be on   site from tomorrow to actually start the incinerating of waste that has been   sitting there since before 2020. Thank you.

Thank you, Madam   Presiding Officer. In terms of follow-up, can the Member indicate who is   procuring the services? Is it the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) through the   Division of Health, Wellness and Social Protection or is it the Tobago   Regional Health Authority (TRHA)?

The rental service   for the incinerator that should be there tomorrow.

An Executive   Council Note was done through the Tobago House of Assembly to go through the   process of having it rented. The TRHA is footing the cost of it.

     The same way that we currently have the Cataract Programme   where there is a back log, where we came to the Tobago House of Assembly,   because it is something that is outside of the normal functioning, we came to   the Executive Council to get approval for that, the same way the same thing   happened for this system.

Thank you, Madam   Presiding Officer, I appreciate the explanation. However, I am wondering in   light of the absence still of the TRHA Board, whether or not this is done   properly, if it is legal for the Executive Council to engage in something   like this, while the TRHA who approves the payments on the side of the Tobago   Regional Health Authority?

     I am sure the sum of two hundred and eighty-eight thousand dollars ($288,000.00) for the rental, is in excess of the Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO’s) approved expenditure.

 Sorry, Minority Councillor, were you finished?

I am asking if the  two hundred and eighty-eight thousand dollars ($288,000.00), if it is proper   for the Executive Council to engage in this type of arrangement for the TREIA to pay the bill, and whether or not the CEO has the authority to approve the  sum of this expenditure in light of the absence of the board?

Go ahead, Assemblyman Dr. Faith B.Yisrael.

The THA Act says that the THA is responsible for items within the Fifth Schedule of the THA Act. One of those Fifth Schedule items is provision of health-related services. The funding that goes to the TRHA while in Trinidad, before RHA gets funded through the Ministry of Health - the funding that goes through the TRHA comes to the   Division of Health, Wellness and Social Protection. There are specific votes relating to the TRHA that reside within the Division of Health, Wellness and Social Protection and the money is tunneled through those votes. This is very legal. That is the normal process we use.

2.10 P.M.

Minority Councillor

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. I am not in total agreement, because although the money is released through the Division of Health... [Interruption]

Continue, Minority Councillor.

. . . the Division of Health is not the one footing the bill.

Is there a question?

Yes, Madam Presiding Officer. The question is, whether or   not it is legal for this transaction to take place. [Crosstalk]

I am yet to hear the question, because I am hearing   everybody else. So can you please restate your question for the purpose of   everyone hearing?

I will move on,   Madam Presiding Officer.

Okay. Thank you.   Any follow-up or was that it? Okay.

Minority Councillor, next question.

11th Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2021 - 2025 Session


24 November 2022
Supplemental question to the main question :
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