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Ombudsman makes recommendations after Own Motion Investigation on Waste Authority Ltd

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 22/11/2019

The Ombudsman, Mr. ‘Aisea Taumoepeau, has made recommendations on his own-motion investigation (OMI) on the Waste Authority Limited (WAL) focusing on the importance of health and safety of rubbish collectors. The Ombudsman released his final report on his OMI following months of investigation “looking into the operation of the Waste Authority Ltd and its waste collection processes, and state of health protection and safety measures for waste collections.

The Ombudsman was compelled to conduct the investigation due to frequent viewing of WAL waste collectors at work with limited protective gear and riding on top of rubbish in open trunk trucks.

The investigation was conducted with the cooperation of the CEO of WAL after meeting with the Ombudsman on 17th October, 2018. The Ombudsman then provided the scope of his investigation on 30th of October, 2018, and required WAL to provide: (i) Information on its waste collection processes, policies, equipment use and include any financial issues; (ii) Information regarding the Safety Measures polices and implementation regarding waste collectors; and (iii) Any other information relevant to this investigation.

The investigation found that WAL provides protection gears but have difficulty in the enforcement of non-complying employees in not wearing the protective gears b. WAL needs proper equipment but cannot finance such equipment due to its limited financial capability, thus the use of open trunk trucks for waste collection c. Most waste collectors work at least 60-hours six-days a week. Pick up starts at 5am and usually finishes at 5pm and sometimes much later d. WAL is reviewing its staff policy to include health protection measures and relevant benefits for waste collectors e. WAL needs to review the monthly fees charged to the public for the weekly collection of their waste. The fees have remained unchanged since 2008.

From these findings, the Ombudsman made recommendations in his report, released on 6th November, 2019: That WAL acquires proper compactor trucks and equipment tailor-made for waste collection and suitable for Tonga’s environment; WAL provides to its waste collection employees protective gears suitable for Tonga’s weather conditions, and enforce its usage and that The CEO of WAL report back to the Ombudsman within two (2) months of the date this report is finalized to provide a follow-up report on the recommendations.

The OMI was launched in accordance with section 11(2) of the Ombudsman Act 2001.

 

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