DEH problems due to management, not trucks

| 27/11/2018 | 62 Comments
Cayman News Service

DEH garbage trucks purchased March 2015

(CNS): The minister responsible for the Department of Environmental Health has said that plans he had to buy more garbage trucks were shelved after he discovered that equipment issues had nothing to do with the problems plaguing a key part of his portfolio. In Finance Committee last week, Dwayne Seymour admitted he was “uncomfortable” answering some questions, as members tried to understand where money was going in the department, given the minister’s request for more supplementary cash, and whether the ministry had managed to get a grip on garbage collection, the endless management and staffing challenges, and its runaway budget.

Seymour said the department was “in grave shape” when he took over, and although he claimed things were being turned around, he struggled to answer questions about the additional CI$228,000 he required for a department that has already overrun its budget by 800%.

In one of many difficult exchanges Seymour has had since he became the health minister about the major parts of his portfolio that appear to have more challenges than most, he tried to respond to the committee about the long-running sagas that have dominated the DEH for well over a year. It was also clear that he still did not know how to tackle the ongoing internal issues impacting the department.

However, the DEH has apparently at least avoided spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars on garbage trucks.

Seymour told the committee that he thought the former director, Roydell Carter, had ordered several new trucks, having told the minister that many of the existing vehicles were no longer working. But after the investigation began into the department’s financial challenges, the purchase was put on hold. Since the acting director was seconded to the DEH from vehicle licensing, all of the trucks are now working.

“Obviously something untoward was going on there …and someone was fired,” the minister said without identifying who that was, since Carter was not sacked but paid off and retired out of the civil service.

Seymour said that he was trying to be responsible with the people’s money and his efforts to find new garbage trucks had been shelved.

“We have a major problem at that department and last thing you want to be doing is buying trucks when the trucks are not the problem,” the minister said, adding that he had not heard anything in last few months about equipment being down as the drivers are now being directed to manage the maintenance of the trucks properly.

Nevertheless, Seymour admitted that the staffing problems were far from over.

There is still a need for ongoing temporary staff, he said, as some workers are on light duties because of health problems and delays in formally dealing with those unable to continue working because of more severe medical reasons, which need to go through the medical board process.

Seymour accepted that the person who should have previously been responsible for overseeing all of this and supervising the former director was the chief officer in his ministry. 

Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller, who led the questioning, said it was “time to stop covering up for the administrative arm” of the health ministry, as he became increasingly frustrated by the lack of clarity over what is really going on at DEH. 

Seymour said he shared Miller’s frustrations and that there were longstanding problems. The deputy chief officer was quick to suggest that since the new acting director had come to the department, things were improving significantly. But Miller was just as quick to point out that Carter had headed up the department for many years when the DEH successfully collected garbage twice a week, but now this was down to once per week at best.

Chris Saunders (BTW) said the committee was trying to understand what had ever been done to determine the structure needed to achieve the DEH’s objective. The minister said he did not know but he believed these were the kind of things that the acting director was now engaged in and that the questioning had given the minister some ideas to take back to the ministry. He said there were a “lot of questions to be answered”.

Arden McLean (East End) pointed out that there was “obviously” a management problem and a breakdown at ministry level adversely affecting the DEH. He said no one is in a vacuum and everyone has a boss.

“Somewhere, somehow we are addressing the pimple and not the real problem at the top,” he said. “That department is not going to get any better …if the management of that department is not addressed. While people get fired at the bottom, no one is held accountable for management. When are we going …to address the structure and how the department is managed?” he asked. “How will we move forward, from the ministry down?”

Seymour said that these were all “uncomfortable questions” and it was not his remit to evaluate chief officers but the role of the deputy governor, who was not present at the time.

“It does draw questions,” Seymour said. “We need to find out exactly where the problems lie.”

See more on CIGTV below starting at 3:47:00 ending at 4:29:45

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Category: environmental health, Government Finance, Government oversight, Health, Politics

Comments (62)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Minister are you going to sit back, relax and allow the deputy governor, chief officer for health and the ministry of health senior staff and the environmental health management. That failed and continue to fail the cayman islands. That they are not even capable of even fixing the on-going garbage problems. They are just in their high positions collecting big salaries. In their seats in the offices in their own comfort zones being instigators doing what they feel like doing. And they are drug testing firing and trying to medical board slaved out garbage collectors, garbage truck drivers also medical board and fired roadside litter collectors. Garbage collectors were called to the medical board that got injured on their jobs. It is a great way to try to unfairly dismiss the workers. So that they will not receive any settlement or be compensated in anyway for their injuries. Send them home to suffer more than they aSre suffering now and for Needs Assessement to take care of them also to be burden on government. And the workers can be given lighter more easier duties. One of the biggest reasons is that those same workers stand up and speak out in the workplace against the wrongdoings of indentified abused and abusive cultural systemic persons such as the management and other workers have done or continue to do in the workplace.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sanitation workers must not to remain silent. There are laws that protect them. Highly compensated managers/ministers should worry about exposure of their incompetence and MUCH MORE when $hit hits the fan. Injured/sick and dismissed workers could end up with huge settlements. They just need to organize, hire the right attorney(s) and bring class action agains CIG for poor pay, dangerous working conditions, harassment and health and safety violations. An open air Dump is not your regular Landfill, therefore people who collect garbage and regularly work at the Dump are exposed to EXTREME health and safety hazards.

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  2. land crab says:

    It is mind boggling that for decades senior Caymanian civil servants who are incompetent and cannot handle the job they are overpaid for, are simply “retired”, given a golden handshake and receive a generous inflation proof pension for life.No wonder we are in such a mess, there seems to be an endless supply of these people.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I think it is awful the way the workers are criticized-how many of us would want to make a living at picking up garbage? It cannot be a pleasant thing to do-have you seen how some people leave their trash? Kudo’s to those workers who pick up and clean up this mess.
    The smell alone is enough to make anyone sick! All jobs have periods when things go wrong-however, I would agree proper management is needed to make sure this does not happen to often. Business is business and this area needs to run like one.

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    • Anonymous says:

      1:55 It’s not as if these workers are not generously paid with an excellent benefits package for the level of skill and education required to do the job. Get with it 1:55 and realize that people do this everywhere in the developed world and in few places do they get paid as well as in Cayman. Civil Servants in Cayman have no idea how good they have it. No income tax and they pay zero contributions to their health insurance.

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      • Anonymous says:

        NOPE! Open air dumps are illegal in civilized countries. Don’t even compare landfills and dumps, let alone compensation of sanitation workers in Cayman and everywhere else.
        As “for the level of skill and education required to do the job”, look at OFFREG and see how incompetence and lack of relevant skills and education is compensated there.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Don’t know what world you are living in 2:08 but there are many open air dumps in America particularly in the southern states. As for compensation, I can assure you that generally Caymanians are well paid compared to their counterparts in America.

  4. Anonymous says:

    CNS please remind the public of MLA: CIG privatising Garbage via back door. In a CNS press release on Janary 9, 2018. That press release told the public what the now acting director for deh stated about the environmental health garbage vehicles fleet. CNS then please remind the public what the now minister for health stated in the November 27, 2018 CNS press release about the garbage vehicles fleet.

    CNS:
    Just to clarify, we don’t issue press releases, we publish news articles. A press release is a public relations tool issued by an entity (government, a department, business, etc) to news media to present the situation from their point of view only.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    The workers are sick because they are probably dying! There was a report at some point saying that anyone living within 3 miles of the landfill is at risk. Put 2 and 2 together… Not saying people dont call in sick because they want a day or two for themselves but come on now, Every worker should feel sick at some point dealing with poisonous gasses everyday. By the way my garbage still needs to be collected but for jesus h. christ mclean ebanks have some sympathy.

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    • Anonymous says:

      People work in dumps all around the world.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Let us please have some empathy for the sanitation employees for being off sick. I worked for 42 years continuously and had about less than 20 days off sick, but if I had to pick up garbage 7 and 8 days old, I could not have worked 2 weeks without a couple of days out. Some of the sites the sanitation staff have to visit is down right disgusting and it will make you sick to see the garbage and smell the rotten refuse. When the workers were collecting garbage twice a week, they did not come across all this rotten putrefied garbage that is harmful to health. We need to hire teams of sanitation workers for each district and collect the garbage twice weekly, then there will be less absenteeism with this department.

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      • Anonymous says:

        #fakenews. Only in the Cayman Islands do people work in dumps.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And those people die early deaths, do you know landfill workers from around the world? You all are living in some fantasy…like the people that live in lakeside.

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        • Anonymous says:

          or the folks in camana bay and the cis school?…
          you know nothing…

        • Anonymous says:

          And that’s the deal with hazardous jobs! If you people would care enough about them you would push the government to sort the dump out so people have a safer job!

  6. Anonymous says:

    DEH get out of the commercial garbage collection business (skip rental & collection). Let the existing private sector companies do this in a competitive environment. This change will also show workers that jobs are not for life. So shape up.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Shows you how smart the Bodden Town people were to elect this piece of work. All Dwayne wants is to live the high life – I can’t even believe he got a ministry after elections. Silly little bees

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    • Anonymous says:

      Trust me, no one in BT expected him to win

      He was just as surprised as we all were
      Ozzie shot himself in the foot being a member of that administration and with certain campaign performances

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  8. Anonymous says:

    When is it ever not managements problem? Isn’t management supposed to solve problems and have the forethought to head of disasters. Where does the buck stop?

    Management of any type on this island is a synonymous term for “incompetent suck-ups” to higher management who themselves just like to practice the key phrase “I was not aware of the problem” -in the army we called these clusterf&*cks…

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    • Anonymous says:

      Those types of phonies are flooding our workforce now! There is a ton of fake it till you make it managers here, ranging from corporate to garbage collection seemingly.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Management is the problem !.The Chief Officer is the problem, get rid of the Chief Officer and hire someone who understands the problem and everything will work well. The Minister of Health is also a problem as he is too soft on those who should know better. This problem with garbage has been going on for too long, We need a change of management – NOW

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  10. Anonymous says:

    When too many workers are sick, it is a red flag for the occupational safety and health board. In the US the management would be held responsible. Sanitation workers must be protected from health and safety hazards. Every job I held had an officer responsible for enforcement of OSHA rules and regulations. They had no choice, for their workcomp premiums would skyrocket.
    When employees are properly compensated, they make sure they don’t lose job to sickness, therefore they voluntarily comply with OSHA regulations.

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    • Anonymous says:

      nope..they are just lazy.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The DOEH rubbish collection staff are not lazy, They are milking the overtime system. Here is an example of how it works: Worker A, scheduled to work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, calls in sick, Worker B covers (arranged with Worker B in advance), and gets paid overtime rate (1.5 times regular). Then, worker B calls in sick his scheduled days, Thu, Fri, Sat, and his buddy, worker A covers and gets paid overtime rates. This only works for a total of 20 working days each year per buddy pair, IF management are on the ball and actually only pay the legally required maximum of 10 sick days per employee. If not, then the sky is the limit. Look back at that out-of-control overtime overrun and recognise that this has been happening.

        We used to have a DOEH garbage collection staff largely made up of hard working Jamaicans who appreciated their job. Back then we had twice weekly collection and no cost overrun. Many of those workers were turfed out, not for not doing a good job, but for political expedience, to be replaced by Caymanians, while others were granted Status by McKeeva in 2003, and are now part of the problem.

        Now we have, at the very, occasional best, once a week collection and huge budget overtime excesses.

        At least John-John (Minister Dwayne Seymour) had the honesty not to perpetuate the myth that it is all due to equipment failures, and did not purchase unneeded equipment to NOT solve the problem.

        The Ministry is silent on the underlying problem, and the former DOEH Director, after an extended and totally unexplained (in fact, for many months, denied,) absence, has been paid to retire and be quiet.

        In the name of good governance, I appeal to the Governor to step in. Every single householder in Cayman knows that there is a serious, underlying problem. It is time to admit that the emperor has no clothes. A Governor that sets this totally solvable problem straight would have the admiration and gratitude of the vast majority of the population.

        Yours sincerely,

        Michael Saint

    • Anonymous says:

      They’re not sick.

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  11. Fed up with political asshats says:

    Does anyone else wonder why Ezzard has such a blatant and obvious hardon for CO Ahearn? Is it anything to do with his former life as a pharmacist, and her ex-husband; also a pharmacist, and some old-seated resentment form something that went sour? Ezzard, you are so unsubtle, and your little yes man Arden is now being followed by another yes-man Jon-Jon. The Peter Principle at large in government once again.

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  12. Ron Ebanks says:

    Anonymous 27/11/2018 @ 9:10 am , you said in a comment that this garbage truck juice that is being spilled on the roads , are more harmful than the NRA poison that was being pumped in the swamp . What kind of poison was pumped in the swamp ?
    Is the “NRA” the National Road Authority ?

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  13. Anonymous says:

    another bad day at the office for dwayne. anywhere else in the world he would have been fired after 5 mins in the job.
    dwayne is the perfect example why expats need to be allowed run for office.

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  14. Rodney A. Barnett says:

    In relation to the future purchase of trash collection trucks, has there been consideration of purchasing the automated style trucks that lift up oversized trash bins and accurately dump garbage into the collection vehicles?

    Purchasing such trucks would be an investment in both vehicles and bins, but would reduce manpower costs as well as protect the health of workers thus reducing staffing in that department and disability pension costs.

    Consideration and research based on this type of collection system which is successfully in used around the world could be considered good planning and good management of the prople’s money.

    A novel idea for Cayman.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The problem is that there is zero / zero maintenance of these dump trucks. In the U.S. and Canada they are good for 10 years before the need to replace them while in Cayman they last for 2 years. Problem in Cayman is we throw money away all the time be it trash trucks or Cayman Airways. Money is no object to CIG.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Minister for health i read the internal audit report that were released on October 1, 2018 on environmental health. The information in that report is unbelievable, eye soaring and shocking. It sames if the chief officer for health, ministry for health senior staff, environmental health solid waste and the landfill mangement must right away get mentally medical board. So they cannot be allowed to continue to blame and mentally drain the average low paid garbage staff. For their abused and abusive failors that they have and continue to do with the system.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    thank god for the civil service…..zzzzzzzzzzzzz
    aka folks who can’t real jobs.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    But, but, management says it’s the trucks. Who you gonna believe?

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  18. LOL says:

    Does the Honourable Seymour even have a high school certificate? When reaching for a light bulb, you don’t want the dull one of the box…

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Dang, who’s the minister responsible again?

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Privatize.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    No way José!!!!

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  22. Anonymous says:

    The trucks are in horrible shape too!! They are supposed to catch garbage juice to minimize the amount of liquid left on the roads. But this feature clearly doesn’t work as every collection day there is a stream of smelly/toxic garbage juice all over the roads. This stuff has to be way more harmful than the NRA poison that was being pumped into the swamp yet no one seems bothered by it????

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      I think it is time for a new Minister /Boss when he alow the department to be over run by 800%. He needs to be the headman on the back of the garbage truck .

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    • Anonymous says:

      You’re so right. That reporter dont feel no ‘moral outrage’ when he see that waste liquid being dropped on the road just like he didnt see none when NRA was blowing sh__ out of wells up in the air and cars and people had to trek through it. These people like to come across like they some big protector of the environment. The environment aint just swamp land off Linford Pierson. Who swiming or fishing in that swamp? People walking and driving on the roads every day Joe Smartie

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      • Anonymous says:

        Why are you beating up on Joe? When he noticed it he investigated it! I am sure you have noticed the liquid waste dripping from the truck before – why didn’t you report it?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Mmmmmmmmm. Garbage juice.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Just as harmful as the iguana guts all over the roads

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  23. Anonymous says:

    The question to ask is who stands to gain in this equation? If the government can’t provide collection of garbage then which local company would stand to gain! It’s a very simple. People wake up and start to ask questions.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Dwayne discovered what we have known has been going on the whole time just like Colombus “discovered” the new world

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  25. Anonymous says:

    “Discovered”

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    • Anonymous says:

      Like Dart discovered cayman.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Incas and Arawaks…some Moors pass through here too later on…

        Although you call them Cubans, along with other Central Americans and East Africans (by real geographic designation) – all killed by “European” diseases, weapons, systems and some even ideologies/thoughts of the aformentioned…

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  26. Anonymous says:

    Finally they admit the problem but it is all around. On my days off years ago I worked for a US sanitation company while in the military; they had old trucks & equipment but had a mechanic staff of 3 men who kept a huge fleet running. Of course the owners did not put up with any bullsh+1 but they had the work and got the results. I have always felt here that the managers are too slack and that passes on down to the other workers; hence nothing gets done. Dislike my comments all anyone wants as I am now too old to worry about what they may think of me. I have paid my dues!

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Anonymous 7:53pm , that’s when you have people who are responsible and accountable for their jobs and department . These Ministers and politicos are the opposite because they feel like they are like rich people who have endless TAXPAYERS money to spend . So don’t expect them to do any better than to be like drunken sailors with everything .

  27. Elvis says:

    Any other great observations Sherlock?

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