“Feel To Be On Path To Privatization By Stealth”

October 9, 2017

Parks Department staff members have suggested that “the lack of effort to provide them with the proper tools and equipment and staffing, that they feel to be on the path to privatization by stealth,” Minister of Public Works Lt/Col. David Burch said in the House of Assembly.

The Minister was answering questions about his statement on the cause of overgrowth on our roadsides, which said that some of the contributing factors are private landowners not maintaining their property, weed spraying not having been carried out for the past two years, and a lack of resources of both labour and equipment.

Minister’s Initial Statement In House

Speaking in the House about the overgrowth of vegetation on our roadsides, the Minister said one of the causes has been the banning of the use of herbicide, so since 2015 “no weed spraying has been carried out on the roadways and verges.”

The Minister explained that while maintaining the ban on concentrated glyphosate based herbicides, the Environment Department will grant a license to the Public Works Ministry to import restricted concentrated forms of glyphosate herbicide with the condition that an Integrated Vegetation Management plan is completed.

Minister Burch also said the team responsible for road sweeping and vegetation cutting “has been limited by a lack of resources” in both labour and equipment.

“Historically, there has been three teams that carry out road sweeping and vegetation cutting that cover the eastern, central and western parishes respectively. Each team should comprise one foreman, one driver, [who both drive] and six heavy labourers,” the Minister said.

“With retirements and natural attrition the teams are now eight labourers short which has meant that at times teams have had to double up to make a viable work crew.

“Four vacant budgeted positions are available for the current budget and recruiting to fill these posts is currently underway. To be clear – this is a sharp departure from the practice of the last 4 ½ years when many posts went unfilled.”

Minister Burch said the “loss of productivity from labour shortages has also been exacerbated by a shortage of trucks,” as they have “not being able to replace trucks” which “led to more frequent breakdowns and down times for the vehicles.”

“Typically the crews have operated with half the number of trucks required and at times only one truck between all three crews,” he said, adding that “often there has been no mechanical road sweeper in operation.”

Minister’s Response To Questions

When asked why there has been no no weed spraying since 2015, the Minister said, “It’s due to a combination of errors, the banning of glyphosate herbicide, and the non-hiring of staff to replace those who either retired, were fired, or quit from the Department of Parks, to the extent that that area is now thirty people under strength.”

When asked a follow up question querying whether this was “the basis for privatization about that department,” Minister Burch replied, “One of the challenges of the Department of Parks is that it is, I would venture to say certainly within this Ministry, the morale is at the lowest of any part of the Ministry.

“I would probably go so far as to say, probably the lowest of any area in Government. And it’s been suggested to me by members of that staff, as you can see, that by the lack of effort to provide them with the proper tools and equipment and staffing, that they feel to be on the path to privatization by stealth.”

Part I: Audio of the exchange in the House

Part II: Audio of the exchange in the House

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Comments (27)

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  1. JAYBIRD says:

    Why not hire on some of the significant number of able bodied unemployed to work as day laborers on an as needed basis?

    • Truths says:

      Or have people on welfare work for their check as you stated last week. I think that is a good idea. Gives people a feeling of self-worth and the roads get cleared at the same time. Win-win.

      Great idea PLP. Now, let’s see it happen pronto.

    • jt says:

      The union likely wouldn’t like that.

  2. Politricks says:

    It will be very inetersting to see how the PLP lives up to their pledge to balance the budget by 2019.

    Almost every other Ministerial statement has indicated that they will beef up each any every Government department with more staff and resources whilst also creating a whole bunch of paid committees.

    I predict a widening deficit and further credit downgrade in our near future. Especially since the credit rating agencies explicitly stated that if our deficit started to grow again a downgrade would be imminent. I foresee ‘junk’ status in our very near future. And for the individuals who don’t care about such things, I say you should as it will be the PLP base that will be impacted the most.

    • Mrs Brady says:

      We all know it won’t happen.

    • jt says:

      I predict significant tax increases to IB and higher earners.

      • Truths says:

        And I predict an exodus of IB and higher earners. (Because they can very easily and they aren’t idiots.)

    • Smith says:

      Thank you for the obaUBPer blog but you and the 12 seat party need to find another leader or change the name again.

      • Politricks says:

        Wow, what an intelligent rebuttal…

        Guessing that 24 seats hasn’t fixed the education system yet.

      • jt says:

        Yep. Don’t even need a crystal ball.
        PLP better realize that because of their last go around business is going to be hyper-sensitive to any decisions the PLP make. There won’t be any tip toeing around things. Govt may think some of their recent decisions would never raise flags, but they have already.

      • CB says:

        The ubpOBA have no leaders because the plp took them all

    • Rights for All says:

      If Bermuda’s credit rating is reduced many IB companies will have no option but leave as they cannot stay in a country which has a lower credit score than the company.

      • Politricks says:


        Try and tell that to the PLP intellectual beacons such as “Smith” above.

        His 24 seats won’t save him if the worst case scenario does come to fruition.

        Pride always comes before the fall.

    • Onion says:

      They won’t. They’re gearing up to blame the OBA.

  3. Shameful says:

    Government has been paying for two Director of Parks (one acting) salaries for over a year and half.

  4. Kevin says:

    Lets do some simple math how many stories are being told to us about items not budgeted – Minibuses -Post Office – additional members of paid Government officials – additional staff being hired , did Tourism increase , did IB increase not that we are aware . Guess that tells you very simply the Deficit will be *BIG*…. The PLP do not know any other way . But you asked for it You GOT IT

  5. Comfortably numb says:

    300+ able bodied men laying off at Westgate could put a dent in the overgrowth problem. Just have to get the approval of Eddie ‘I’m your Daddy’ Lambe.

  6. joe says:

    Not filling vacancies has happened all over Government, not just Parks. The Government saves on salaries and forces the departments to change their way of doing business into something more economical. I would like to see the PLP show some action in controlling expenditure, but I don’t see any evidence of it.

  7. sage says:

    Banning glyphosate was not an error, removing the ban after monsanto lobbyists visited was.There are other non-poisonous ways to weed the roadsides.

    • aceboy says:

      Vinegar is one.

      How much does that cost compared to the harsh chemicals?

  8. ian mcewan says:

    Easy, have a chat with your mate Zane and put all those scroungers on financial assistance to work. I’m sure all the elderly on FA are fit enough to help out ….
    Why oh why are you bringing something so disastrous for the environment back to the island????? Why!

  9. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    Service Vehicle Color chart

    BELco……………. Dark green.
    ONE……………….. White.
    TELEPHONE ….. Yellow
    W & E…………….. White
    B.P.S………………. Day glow ……used to be in my day no see um black.
    PARKS………………Should paint all their stuff so it glows in the dark so it will not get lost in the bushes.

  10. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    Privatise W/E and Parks…give the employees the first option to start their own businesses…There ypu go …money saved by deleting a Dept…along with profits as these new businesses pay their taxes…any other departments y’all unhappy with .?,

  11. Triangle Drifter says:

    Sooner or later Bermuda has to get past this view that a Government job is not financial assistance where you have to actually show up & sit around till you punch out. Once you have it you are set for life.

    Parks is yet another department that would be much more efficiently run, to the benefit of taxpayers, if it was put out to tender & done by private enterprise.

    Those who are worth keeping would have no fear of losing a paycheck. Those who currently waste time & space everyday will either have to change their attitude towards work or be out of employment.

  12. aceboy says:

    More hiring, more spending…..

    The PLP have not learned a thing.

    The Col. should show up at a few W&E job sites unannounced and he can then see the real story.