The government will soon resume hiring retirees to cut bush along roadsides, Premier Andrew Fahie said during the Oct. 17 House of Assembly meeting.

He was speaking in response to questions from opposition member Julian Fraser, who asked why government funding for the programme had not been reinstated in the past six months even though Mr. Fahie had agreed to do so during the last Standing Finance Committee meeting.

The premier, however, said that $105,000 had been allocated in the 2019 budget for the Ministry of Transportation, Works and Utilities’ programme commonly referred to as “Bush Cutting for Retirees,” but he acknowledged that none of it had been spent so far.

He went on to say that 32 contracts soon would be issued across all of the districts: three to D-1, nine to D-2, four to D-3, one to D-4, seven to D-5, three to D-6, two to D-7, one to D-8 and two to D-9.

Mr. Fraser (R-D3) also pushed TWU Minister Kye Rymer about bush-cutting in the Third District, to which Mr. Rymer responded that purchase orders had been delivered and collected by the district representative and that works would commence “any day now.”

Health and Social Development Minister Carvin Malone said in response to further questions from Mr. Fraser that the Department of Waste Management had resumed cutting bush along Drakes Highway on Oct. 10.

Previously, the cutting had not been conducted since the last quarter of 2018 because there had been no funding allocated in the budget, he said.

Mr. Malone also noted that prior to September 2017 the cutting was conducted at least once every eight weeks by a team of seven workers.

He added that the DWM is constrained by limited human resources as a result of demands that arose from Hurricane Irma, which led to those seven employees being reassigned to collect bulky waste throughout the territory.

A shortage of functional vehicles following the storm also impaired the bush-cutting operations, Mr. Malone said.