A trash bin is emptied into the rear of a Guam Solid Waste Authority packer truck during collection in a Dededo neighborhood in this 2021 file photo. Currently, Guam only has five refuse trucks in operation.
A trash bin is emptied into the rear of a Guam Solid Waste Authority packer truck during collection in a Dededo neighborhood in this 2021 file photo. Currently, Guam only has five refuse trucks in operation. Tractor Topper Mower
The Guam Solid Waste Authority, which is struggling to keep its aging fleet of trash collection trucks on the road, is buying three new trucks — but they won’t be delivered until late next year.
Until then, Guam’s residential solid waste service will depend on about five working trucks, with solid waste workers pulling double shifts in order to meet the collection schedule.
The Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved the solid waste agency’s “urgent” petition to spend $1.33 million for three side-and-rear loading diesel “packer” trucks.
PUC approval is required for procurement greater than $1 million, and winning bidder Mid Pac Far East submitted a price of about $444,333 per truck.
The solid waste agency currently is operating trucks that were purchased between 2009 and 2018, during the federal receivership of the government’s solid waste operations.
District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood in 2008 placed Guam’s solid waste operations under receivership after GovGuam failed to meet court-ordered deadlines to close the Ordot dump and open a new landfill.
At the time the receiver took over, government solid waste workers were working double shifts, using leased trucks. The receiver corrected billing and operational problems, including purchasing new vehicles and equipment, with court approval.
The receivership mostly ended in 2019, with the Guam Solid Waste Authority taking over operations, but receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton is responsible for finalizing the Ordot closure.
“With maintenance, a typical refuse truck has an average working life of approximately seven years,” the solid waste agency’s petition to the PUC states. “Since the receivership ended, however, no new trucks have been purchased and the fleet has been reduced by 50%, from 10 working trucks to five trucks.”
According to the PUC report on the petition, the solid waste agency’s collection trucks “had not been maintained in accordance with industry standards,” and five of the trucks are at least 11 years old.
The solid waste agency in August reported that it spent a total of $6.27 million in repair and maintenance costs for its fleet of vehicles, which cost $4.91 million when they were purchased.
For example, one of the large rear-loading garbage trucks, which cost $320,851 to purchase in 2018, has received at least $220,542 in repair and maintenance work since then.
Another large truck bought the same year has received $170,291 in repair and maintenance work.
Solid Waste General Manager Irvin Slike, who started working at the agency last October, told the PUC there are production delays in the mainland, which means Mid Pac can’t deliver the new trucks until about 310 days after they are purchased.
The solid waste agency plans to keep using its current trucks even after new trucks arrive.
“We’ve got five usable ones. If we get three more, we’ll have eight. We’ll still be missing two,” Slike said during this month’s solid waste board meeting. “We’ll be in much better shape. We’re not in any position now to start decommissioning stuff unless we completely blow an engine or something like that.”
Reach reporter Steve Limtiaco at
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