Businesswoman loses bid to operate maritime waste disposal company

A St Andrew businesswoman who hauled the Ministry of Health before the courts to seek a judicial review of its designation of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) as the only contractor authorised to collect ship or vessel waste, has been sent packing by the Supreme Court.

The court in refusing an order sought by the woman to quash that decision of the ministry in relation to the NSWMA, also shot down her bid to have the courts direct the health ministry to permit her to continue conducting her commercial venture of disposing of maritime waste.

Additionally, a September 2022 injunction granted by the courts which had forced the health ministry to permit the entrepreneur to continue her business of dumping maritime waste was also discharged by the court in the recent decision.

The court, in the ruling handed down at the end of July in relation to the orders sought by the businesswoman, said for it to “compel the [health minister] to permit the claimant to continue to conduct her business of disposal of maritime waste would be to interfere with the discretion of the decision maker”.

It said based on its analysis of the legal arguments presented by the businesswoman through her attorneys, she had failed “on a balance of probabilities to show that the decision was illegal”, hence the orders it made in refusing her claim.

Furthermore, the court found that the businesswoman had no contract with the ministry or the Government of Jamaica even though she is licensed under the Public Procurement Act and has been given a Public Procurement Commission Certificate of Registration and Classification for goods and services for garbage collection and disposal. The court, however, noted that while she can be included on the Government of Jamaica Approved Register in the category of transportation and haulage of – garbage collection and disposal, it was of the view that the certificate only places her in position to be considered in procurement exercises specifically related to transportation and haulage – garbage collection and disposal. It further noted that the certificate makes no reference to ship-generated waste or maritime waste.

The marketing and consultancy firm owned and operated by the woman focuses on waste disposal, specifically the collection and disposal of garbage and other waste from maritime vessels with the approval of the Port Health and Quarantine services (Port Health) which is operated by the Ministry of Health. The woman, who had been involved in the business since September 2021, was, however, advised by a client in October of the same year that based on an e-mail from the senior quarantine officer of Port Health, the NSWMA is the only authority authorised to collect maritime waste.

The woman, supposedly, a former NSWMA worker, following fruitless attempts to clarify this with Port Health and the Maritime Association of Jamaica, sought a judicial review of the decision and the orders of the court to force the entities to permit her to continue her business.

A Ministry of Health official, in countering the woman’s claims that it had acted illegally, said the ministry being responsible for monitoring the maintenance of proper health standards had vested the NSWMA as the sole collector of ship-generated waste.