Oahu residents still frustrated over missed trash pickups

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It’s a problem some Oahu residents say happens too often.

Garbage is overflowing, trash pickup routes are missed, and the city is paying out tens of thousands of dollars to make up for the trash trouble.

“We are actually physically jumping in the cans and smashing them down as much as we can,” Palm Villas Resident Manager Philip Huth said.

Since last week, Huth has been getting his feet and hands dirty, trying to tackle a trash problem.

“The smell is really bad. It creates a lot of issues, health issues, regarding the smell, the odor. Literally, I have come out and had oceans of maggots underneath the trash cans,” Huth said.

For months, Huth says delays in trash collection have caused headaches for him and many other residents in Leeward Oahu.

Just over two weeks ago, he had to pay more than $2,000 to hire a private company to get rid of the garbage from his 19 Dumpsters and 351 units.

“I just have to apologize profusely to the residents out there. We have seven of these front-end loaders on island and six of them are currently down. They are at our sister department for servicing and repairs,” said Lori Kahikina, Director of Environmental Services.

City officials contracted a private company to collect the trash and spent the day doubling up on collection. But since the contracted worker doesn’t know the routes, a city refuse employee sits in with the driver to direct him where to go.

“The first route he is paid straight time. The second route, as I mentioned, he is doing two Tuesday and two Wednesday. That second route, per contract we have to pay him overtime,” Kahikina said.

Taking a look at the numbers, the Dumpster removal costs the city $13,000 a day and the city worker gets an additional $420 in overtime. Ultimately, it would cost close to $300,000 for a new truck. So why doesn’t the city get a new one?

“There doesn’t seem to be a criteria and there should be standards and rules of who can get free city pick up,” Honolulu City Councilmember Ann Kobayashi said.

The Honolulu City Council denied a request for a new truck from the Department of Environmental Services because refuse workers are picking up trash from private residences including Palm Villas.

“We are not consistent across the island,” Kahikina said.

But residents argue they pay taxes, too, and city officials say they need to reassess the process.

“Instead of purchasing new front-end loaders, re-look at it. Let’s step back to see is this a really good program? Is there ways we can improve it?” Kahikina said.

City officials expect most of the trucks undergoing repairs should be back up and running on Thursday.

Related story: Missed trash pickups cause stinky problem in West Oahu

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