February 3, 2023

The city council requested the City Mayor’s Office to do a feasibility study regarding the renewed proposal to privatize garbage collection in the city.

In a resolution, the council said privatization might reduce costs and may bring about increased efficiency.

General Services Office Eugene Buyucan said he is open to the idea of commissioning a private company to collect garbage. He said the city may be able to cut its expenses for the said operation.

The city government spends an average of P240 million in a year for the collection and hauling of waste to a private sanitary landfill. Of the amount, P150M is allotted for administrative costs and cost of delivery of waste to the Green Valley transfer station.

The administrative cost includes maintenance of the city’s 19 hauler trucks, salary and benefits of workers, and purchase of protective gear and uniforms. The local government annually spends around P90M for hauling cost and tipping fees paid to the operator of the Urdaneta sanitary landfill.

“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.

Buyucan agreed the move towards privatization may introduce more efficient services in garbage collection.

“Our current system is working. Our services are somehow satisfactory. Sadly, we have limited manpower resources and vehicles that is why our performance is not at its optimal level,” Buyucan said.

“A private company works efficiently because it is performance-based and it can always employ more workers to meet the demands of the job,” he added.

The resolution stated the move to privatize the garbage collection in the city has long been proposed by some concerned sectors but was not fully recognized, thus was shelved.

The current public health emergency resulted in revival of proposals for the need to revisit the clamor to privatize the collection of garbage in the city, the resolution stated.

Buyucan acknowledged the need for speedy collection of waste to maintain sanitation in the city amid the Covid-19 outbreak – a task that is challenging on the part of the local government’s garbage collectors due to limited manpower.

The GSO chief said he would welcome the move of the city to privatize garbage collection. At the same time, he expressed support for the council’s request to conduct a feasibility study first before arriving at a decision.

“If the feasibility study proves that this move will improve the delivery of public service, then we will support it,” Buyucan stated.

“We would not jump right away into privatization. The feasibility study will guide the city in policymaking. The prevailing assumption is that privatization will be advantageous as it may be more efficient and practical, but our approach in our decisions has to be scientific and scholarly,” Buyucan added.

The resolution stated the terms of reference shall be prepared by the GSO and/or the City Mayor’s Office if the feasibility study concludes that the privatization of garbage collection is favorable to the city. – Jordan G. Habbiling