Company blames driver shortage for slow garbage pickup

Company blames driver shortage for slow garbage pickup
Published: Apr. 19, 2018 at 9:21 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2018 at 10:01 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - New contractors are on the way to help clean up trash troubles in Memphis.

Thursday we learned the city has hired new contractors to help Inland Waste clear its backlog, and for the first time, Inland Waste is acknowledging the issues started with an employee walkout.

The city says contractors clearing yard waste started Wednesday and new contractors for curb service will start Friday.

"It does not look good for the city or the neighborhood, especially the neighborhood," Leotha Wilson said.

Thursday, a city spokesperson said more contractors will be on the job Friday to supplement Inland Waste, which picks up about 20 percent of the city's trash.

There isn't a figure yet for how much extra the city will spend.

"It really pushes your image down, and a lot of times I hate to come down this street and see this stuff," Frank Tarrance said.

City of Memphis pays inland Waste more than $4.2 million annually, according to a service contract obtained by Kendall Downing. There are provisions within the contract that state the city can terminate the agreement.

"We're looking at our legal options with regard to Inland," Mayor Jim Strickland said.

On Thursday, the parent company of Inland Waste released a statement saying the issues started earlier this month when they experienced a driver shortage without notice.

The statement goes on to say new drivers are in training and a plan was discussed with the city to have all services current by Monday, April 23.

Here is the full statement from Bob Mathis, Regional VP of Bobcat North America:

Inland Waste Solutions a Bobcat North America Company is experiencing service delays in the City of Memphis. The issue began Monday, April 9, 2018 when our Memphis, Tennessee Inland Waste location experienced a qualified professional driver shortage without notice. Inland Waste immediately took action, contacting Philip Davis, Deputy Solid Waste Director advising of the situation. We began conducting interviews and hiring qualified candidates to replace the driver shortage. There are new drivers currently completing our Driver Training Program for safe operation on public roadways. “We take ownership of the situation and will take steps necessary to resolve this issue as soon as possible. We must maintain safe operation of our fleet to protect the citizens of the Memphis area”. Our Memphis professionals continued to provide service updates throughout the week, completing all Cart service by Sunday afternoon, April 15, 2018.  
Monday, April 16, 2018 at 10:15am a conference call was conducted with Deputy COO Patrice Thomas, Solid Waste Director Robert Knecht and Deputy Solid Waste Director Philip Davis. A full disclosure of service challenges and delays were outlined by Inland Waste Solutions to City Officials. A second conference call with the same attendee’s was held at 1:45pm Monday afternoon. Inland Waste Solutions outlined a written detailed operating plan that was submitted to Mayor Strickland for approval. The plan outlined the use of Rental Sanitation Trucks and a local vendor to assist with bulk and yard waste collection. These additional trucks and local vendor were expected to arrive on April 18 or 19, 2018. Once the additional resources arrive, they would be put into immediate service. As of today, three Rental Trucks and Michaels Tree Service are on the street collecting trash and Yard Waste. Inland Waste Solutions agreed to have all services current by Monday, April 23, 2018. The article released on April 17, 2018 quoting Robert Knecht “We’ve ask them to explain why they’re not meeting service” doesn’t make sense. We provided a written Operating Plan, which Mr. Knecht and City Officials accepted on April 16, 2018 at 1:45pm.
April 18, 2018 update, Inland Waste Solutions has taken delivery of three Rental Sanitation Trucks and is utilizing Michaels Tree Service for bulk and Yard Waste collection. Cordova is our priority area to clean up, per Mayor Strickland. Then we will move into the other Inland Waste service areas of Memphis sweeping the city as we move down each street. We are 100% focused on providing service to our residential customers in the City of Memphis. We apologize for the current situation and feel we are taking steps necessary to resolve the issue in an expeditious manner. The service commitment date of April 23, 2018 is still our goal. “We are working diligently every day to provide service to all Inland customers.”

Memphis fined Inland last year for not meeting the terms of its contract. The current contract expires next year. Germantown fired Inland years ago.