Blacktip Island residents may soon have to pay for items they remove from the island’s landfill if proposed legislation is passed.
A government proposal to charge for items taken from Blacktip Island’s garbage dump sparked a protest Friday in the small Caribbean community.
Known as ‘Home Depot’ to locals, the dump is often the first stop for local DIY projects.
Authorities say the new fees are necessary to fund the island’s public works. The proposal calls for repurposed garbage to be sold by weight or the assessed value of items, whichever is greater.
“Public services here are strapped,” landfill supervisor Harry Wrasse said. “We can’t afford to let people just walk away with junk anymore. We’ve got to squeeze all the juice we can from our oranges, whether folks like it or not.
“End of the day, if it’s in the government landfill, it belongs to the government,” Wrasse said. “Dumps are expensive, what with salary, benefits, fines and having to buy new garbage trucks every six months when our drivers get drunk and drive into the booby pond.”
Locals picketing the dump Friday afternoon disagreed.
“It’s the public landfill. It’s the people’s garbage,” resident Palometa Fischer said. “Assigning arbitrary values to stuff that’s been discarded is modern-day piracy.
“This is a case of one tin-plated government functionary abusing what little power they’ve given him,” Fischer said. “And you think it’s coincidence there’s no system in place to keep track of the fees? Harry and his cronies’re pocketing the money.”
Other locals were concerned about the fees’ effects on their lifestyle.
“Dump diving’s a Blacktip tradition,” resident Ginger Bass said. “Now there’ll be no more salvaged tin roofing, no more fire pits made from washer drums, no more expired fire extinguisher fights.
“We’re telling everybody to boycott the place, keep their junk,” Bass said. “Government honchos are talking out of both side of their mouths. First they say we have to reuse and recycle, then they make it harder for us to do that. There’s more here than meets the eye.”
Others in the community are taking further steps to undermine the planned fees.
“If a washing machine or junked car never makes it to the dump, well, the government can’t charge for it, can they?” Fischer said. “We’re making a list of who has what to throw away.”
“Worst case, we’ll start our own co-op dump where folks can swap stuff for free,” Fischer said.