While Baguio is still looking for a cheaper way to manage its wastes, the city government has earmarked P230 million this year for the hauling of generated garbage to a disposal facility in Capas, Tarlac.
General Services Officer Eugene Buyucan told the city council on June 14 P90M of the amount is spent on transportation and hauling fees while P140M is allotted for salaries of employees and operation and maintenance of garbage trucks and other equipment used in managing the garbage from the collection points up to its disposal.
The city council recently confirmed a contract entered into by Mayor Benjamin Magalong with Metro Clark Waste Management based in Capas where the city’s garbage is hauled on a monthly basis at the moment after the engineered sanitary landfill at Urdaneta City, Pangasinan where the city previously brought its garbage temporarily stopped operations.
The contract provides the city shall pay Metro Clark P650 tipping fee per ton of garbage. Metro Clark Executive Vice President Victoria Gaetos said the amount is a special arrangement with the city government based on the volume of garbage it brings to the facility, as the company normally charges P850 for tipping fee per ton.
Aside from tipping fee, Buyucan said the city also spends P1,400 for transportation or hauling to Metro Clark, which is twice expensive than the hauling cost it used to pay to the Urdaneta facility.
The city pays the salaries and benefits of 90 regular employees and spends for the maintenance of 22 garbage trucks and other equipment. The regular employees work with 170 volunteers who assist in garbage segregation, cleaning of trucks, and hauling of garbage to the trucks.
He said the city normally averaged 400 tons of garbage generated in a day. Before the pandemic, he said the city was transporting around 180 to 185 tons of non-biodegradable or residual wastes per day to the disposal facility but this has been reduced to 150 to 155 tons per day during the pandemic or a decrease of 17 percent.
The city’s environmental recycling facilities also process around 10 to 15 tons of biodegradable wastes a day, and part of which are also being managed at source.
In entering a contract renewable monthly with Metro Clark, Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan expressed concern about a possible violation of the Procurement Act for not subjecting the hiring of hauling services to bidding.
He said while contracting with Metro Clark was spurred by emergency after its former disposal facility at Urdaneta stopped operations, the situation cannot be all the time considered as an emergency.
“We ask our managers to look into this. We have a valid reason for the meantime, but not for the rest of the contract. There should be a bidding considering the fact it involves volumes of garbage from the city. For the meantime it is okay, but with due respect, not all the time we can be doing this,” Olowan said.
Councilor Lourdes Tabanda, chair of the city council committee on laws, explained the bids and awards committee authorized direct contracting, using as basis the previous contract entered into by the city with Metro Clark before hiring the Urdaneta ESL, where the price was more or less the same as the price in the recent contract.
Buyucan added aside from Urdaneta, the Capas facility is the nearest repository available to the city.
In December 2020, the city council in a resolution requested the executive department to conduct a feasibility study for the privatization and one-time collection of the city’s garbage from source to landfill.
The goal of the study is to find out if privatization is more viable and efficient than the current garbage disposal system of the city.
The output of the study will map out the preferred strategy for the city’s waste collection. This requires the assistance of a resource economist, a business development and entrepreneurship specialist, and a data analytics specialist.
The council resolution stated the plan to privatize may result in cost reduction and may bring about increased efficiency.
Last Monday, the city council also approved the second supplemental budget of the city for 2021. One of the 16 prioritized projects covered by the second supplemental budget is the conduct of the said feasibility study which will cost P400,000.
Buyucan earlier said he is open to the idea of commissioning a private company for the city’s garbage collection as the city may be able to cut its expenses.
“If we bring in a private company, the city may be able to save money used for personal services, for the procurement of vehicles, and for maintenance,” Buyucan said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana with reports from Jordan G. Habbiling