Published On: Thu, Jan 10th, 2019

Garbage fraud

Dump truck heading up Soualiga Boulevard

By Hilbert Haar

It is no news that French-side garbage ends up on the dump on Soualiga Boulevard. What is however news is that the department of infrastructure apparently has no idea how to prevent this from happening.

On the French side garbage collectors have to pay a fee for every truck that dumps garbage on the landfill, but on Dutch St. Maarten dumping is free.

The head of VROMI’s Infrastructure Management Department, Claudius Buncamper said during a presentation at the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation on Wednesday that trucks with a French license plate will not be given access to the dump. But if the truck has a Dutch-side number plate no questions are asked.

So what happens? I can imagine that a French-side trucker who wants to duck the dump-fees on his side of the border gets hold of Dutch license plates. Put them on the truck and you dump your garbage for free on the Dutch side. Or, also possible, Dutch-side truckers travel to the French side to pick up garbage and bring it across the border.

Both options seem to work and there is of course money involved. This is also called fraud.

Buncamper said that his department has in the past executed controls at the border to stop French garbage from coming into the country. And admittedly, they caught more than one trucker.

Needless to say, such controls are labor-intensive and therefore expensive. The department could not keep it up. And apparently nobody has come up with an alternative solution.

If you know that there is some hanky-panky going on with number plates as an easy way to dump garbage for free, aren’t you going to do something about it?

Especially now that the infrastructure department has taken over landfill management it should not be too difficult, assuming for argument’s sake that the staff at the gate is immune to bribery.

Give garbage-truckers a landfill-ID – one with a clear picture of the driver that matches the one on his driver’s license. Without a landfill-ID you don’t get onto the dump site.

To prevent ID-holders from cheating (by picking up garbage from the French side) install cameras at the border with a link to the gate at the dump.

Technology is wonderful and it would not surprise me if there is software capable of issuing an alert the moment these cameras spot one of two things: a French truck crossing the border, or a Dutch truck traveling the other way and coming back shortly afterwards with French garbage.

These are some thought for consideration by people with more expertise about the dump than I do. After all, what do I know?