Many Jacksonians are still unclear about the state of garbage disposal and collection in the city. To answer some of these questions, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba held a “trash talk” forum at New Jerusalem Church in South Jackson Thursday, April 14.
For the past two weeks, since April 1, residents have experienced garbage pickup from Richard’s Disposal, Inc. Many residents have also experienced late and delayed service as a result.
“You all are experts in your condition. You know what has made life difficult over time. You know what you have enjoyed over time. So it’s important that we hear from you and that we engage and interact and build solutions together,” said Mayor Lumumba.
Mayor Lumumba went on to explain that there were two areas he wanted to address with citizens: 1) What the garbage dispute has been about and 2) service operations for the new garbage vendor.
Mayor Lumumba addressed much of the concerns about his ongoing garbage dispute with the Jackson City Council. He is currently in litigation with the council about the garbage contract. Kimberly Mueller, the assistant chief marketing director, and Donnell Randolph, operations manager for Richard’s Disposal, Inc. were present to answer questions about operations.
One question that came up from various attendees was about phone correspondence with Richard’s Disposal. Mueller mentioned that the company was working out kinks with its phone system that had been dropping connections when residents called.
The mayor answered a question about workers, or hoppers, for the company, who’s still in the process of hiring. He stated that many of the hoppers will be those who’ve been performing the job with Waste Management and are transitioning over from the company. Furthermore, he mentioned that a key issue is that, because Waste Management has been the garbage vendor for approximately 30 years, the city does not have access to its own garbage routes.
“It’s really miraculous that they haven’t had far more challenges than what they have had because they really have been designing – figuring it out – their routes as they go,” stated Lumumba. He continued, “That is a city failure that we didn’t maintain the routes. It’s not a Richard’s Disposal failure.”
Mayor Lumumba also touched on the fact that there are two different RFPs that fall under the umbrella of the garbage vendor. One refers to garbage collection and the other is about garbage disposal. During the first week, Richard’s Disposal had problems accessing the landfill at particular points in time.
“If they can’t get into the landfill to empty their trucks, then they can’t get to your house to pick up more trash; and it becomes a cycle of them being behind schedule. If they didn’t pick up the trash on Monday, they still have Tuesday’s route to deal with while they’re trying to catch up on Monday. And it becomes an endless and repeated cycle that becomes difficult to get past,” Lumumba expressed.
Mueller added that the company is trying to maintain, or stay as close to, residents’ current garbage pickup days with minor tweaks.
Another citizen expressed her pleasure with Richard’s Disposal. “I’m very pleased with Richard’s Disposal, and I want to personally thank you Mayor Lumumba for considering what the citizens need.”