that's hard to get rid of
Our garbage collecting service was one of the first government departments to be privatized.
They are doing quite well, they say. It might be better if they did a bit worse...

When our daughter was looking for a vacation job, all kids who had worked at Selikor advised her to go there. Nobody at that office did a fart, was the word, explicitly including our once PM Mirna Godett who, after her cabinet lost power, went back to her job there. Must have been a relief for her to sit back and relax once again, without being bugged by newspaper persons who didn't show the proper respect due to her high office.

When Selikor was privatized around 1996, the first thing that happened was that every household was forced to pay ANG20 a month, for which they received a nice new plastic garbage container. This admittedly was an improvement, but on the other hand works out to a 5 guilders fee per week to collect 1 container. That's a lot: Almost 5% of your old age pension. Also, you're not so naïve as to think that taxes were lowered by that amount? Now, figure there are at least 40,000 households on the island, not counting business addresses, and you won't very surprised to learn from a book like Joseph D. Pistone's DONNIE BRASCO: My Undercover Life in the Mafia (1987) Amazon.uk Amazon.ca that, in the USA, the Mafia always loves to get a hand in garbage collecting operations: There's money in them thar bins. And it doesn't stop with the bins, either.

At the landfills, everybody who comes there now has to pay 30 guilders to dump 1000 kilos of refuse. That's the minimum. I don't have the time to stand there and count the trucks, but judging from what I see and the delays on the road, that must be a lot of trucks every day, and so, a lot of money. No wonder Selikor has announced they are doing quite well, thank you. Keep repeating to yourself while reading on that the total population of Curaçao now is below 150,000. In September 2004 Selikor started work on a new office building, at first budgeted to cost ANG7M, but after mild protests started to break out, they now claim it's 5M. It seems a pretty safe bet it may turn out to be more expensive than that, wouldn't you agree? A quick estimate gives you a price between 4000 and 6000 guilders per m2; or about two to three times the standard rate.
In November 2006 a new salary structure was announced for the Selilor staff, but no details on what this would involve were given, because When this is published, the entire island will put everything aside to pounce upon us declared director Francisca. He has a point there, that's for sure.

new Selikor building, just oozing money
even if they claim recycled materials have been used

By now, it will not come as a surprise that Selikor has been making a yearly profit of 5 million guilders (that's 125 guilders per household, where the bill finally ends up to be paid.) Since 1996, they have invested a total of 19M. I'm sure they can afford it. But even if we'd grant this is no matter and certainly better than to keep paying, like with DCA... hold it, we're paying anyway (to the tune of ANG29M per year)... there is another side to the matter.

Shushi Lunch
Even before 1996, Curaçao was a filthy place. Rubbish and trash all over. Car wrecks, boat wrecks, aircraft wrecks—you name it. On the land, in the sea and, especially downwind of the Isla oil refinery, in the air. Actually, a lot of car wrecks had been collected and junked since about 1980. But since Selikor started asking and getting all that money, dumping trash and building refuse along the roadsides has taken downright frightening proportions. Along with that, we get rat, fly and yellow fever/dengué mosquito plagues thrown in for free. Since early 2004, there is a cremation unit for pets and other animals. More money coming in, no doubt: Cremating a dog costs 65 guilders, and even the (government run) slaughterhouse has been complaining that this eats up the profits and they may now have to close. Another result is that dead horses are now routinely dumped in isolated places.

COT spill

oil spill at Curaçao Oil Terminal
Isla refinery denies this is an oilspill
Photo Willy Maal, Amigoe 16 March 2006

In March 2006, Milieudienst announced they would start enforcing laws on illegal dumping. It turns out you can get a permit from Milieudienst to dump untreated cesspool refuse in sea, just like that. But Milieudienst says the rules are very strict; they will fine illegal dumpers heavily. They say. If they can catch them. We say (catching them takes an effort). And why not begin with Isla refinery, the heaviest polluter on the island?

Count out those profits, Selikor.
It's easy to forget you still are supposed to be
a service to the public
privatized or not.

By the way, even though Selikor makes a profit
it is still subsidized with 29 million guilders per year.
Selikor never paid dividend to the government, while millions of profits have been made.

oilspill flowers

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