The new senior leadership team tasked with righting the ship at the Department of Environmental Health is now in place and moving forward. Since joining the DEH from other government agencies early this month, the new management team is already setting a new tone.
The new temporary DEH management team told Cayman 27 restoring timely and on-schedule garbage collection is priority number one, as the beleaguered department aims to make a turnaround.
The DEH’s garbage collection woes have been well documented over the last several months, the department blaming equipment failures and employee absenteeism for the issues.
Monday morning, Acting Director Richard Simms and Acting Assistant Director of Solid Waste Mark Bothwell faced Cayman 27 cameras, and shared details as to where this 180 will be achieved.
Less than two weeks into his tenure as new DEH Acting Director, Mr. Simms is putting his listening skills to the test.
“We want to make sure that we are on the ground listening to the staff, seeing what is their needs are, and where we can offer any assistance and boosting morale where we need to,” said Mr. Simms.
Employee absentee accounted for more than 1,200 days off among drivers and drivers assistants from August of last year through April of this year. Mr. Simms said he hopes this employee feedback will lead to solutions to this serious issue.
“We certainly need to address the level of absenteeism that is happening, we want to see why it is happening, and we will do our best to address those as early as possible,” said Mr. Simms.
“We want to make sure they have all the tools that they need, all the safety equipment they need, that in itself is a morale booster,” said Mr. Bothwell, who noted that some of these simple changes have already been implemented.
“We are getting some extra showers built for the guys in the back of dispatch section, so that helps in building morale, it’s building morale that they have a place to shower, we give them things like Raid for ants, they have a lot of ants and stuff they have to deal with out on the road,” he explained.
New policies have also been put in place to safeguard equipment, including twice daily inspections.
“Most of the problems that we are having with the trucks are the wear and tear on tires, that is, which you can appreciate, they are carrying a lot of load, they are going on rough terrain, so they are punctured quite often,” said Mr. Simms.
“You have to work a time to get paid for your time,” said Mr. Bothwell.
He said additionally, a new clock-in, clock-out system has been put in place to help ensure the government is getting value for money.
“We’re not here to be the bad guy so to speak and get rid of people, we just want people to do their job and once they do that everything will be fine,” said Mr. Bothwell.
While both men say a turnaround is going to take some time, these few early steps from the first two weeks of their tenure has already seen some positive gains.
On a side note, one topic was off-limits for Monday’s interview. I was told the DEH would not be answering any questions relating to former director Roydell Carter, whose employment status remains in question after being placed on required leave late last year.