Sixty per cent of the households of Tijuana are no longer enjoying garbage pickup and to determine why requires no more than a quick glance at the election calendar: there’s a new mayor in town.
As usually happens when a new administration takes office in either a state or municipality, the public treasury has been left with a debt and in Tijuana it amounts to 28 million pesos (US $1.3 million), says Juan Manuel Gastelum, who was elected last June and took office in December.
The result is that there is no money to repair garbage trucks that “are not in optimal condition,” said the mayor, who suggested earlier in the week that trucks might have to be rented to resolve the problem.
The suggestion created alarm among municipal employees responsible for garbage pickup, who saw it as a sign that Gastelum planned to privatize the service.
More than 100 of those workers turned up at municipal headquarters on Tuesday in protest, and were rewarded by a meeting with the mayor himself. He guaranteed that renting trucks would be a temporary measure only, and those trucks would be driven by Tijuana municipal workers.
Gastelum said the previous administration neglected to pay for repairs to the vehicles and now there is no money to do so, leaving 60 of Tijuana’s 120 trucks out of commission.
The municipality has announced it will eliminate 180 jobs while reducing cell phone costs and travel expenses and prohibiting the use of official vehicles for personal transportation.
The job cuts are expected to save as much as 30 million pesos a year. Restricting the use of vehicles for official purposes only should save some 1.5 million liters of fuel a year, according to Tijuana’s chief administrator, María de los Ángeles Olague.