Barbados Health Minister Jerome Walcott spoke in the House of Assembly yesterday in favour of the Government’s motion for more than eight million dollars to repair current garbage trucks and purchase new equipment. This is up from the five million proposed for the same purchases just six months ago, but what’s a few extra million between friends?
If we could be sure that at least half of the amount would actually go towards the garbage problem, we wouldn’t mind a little bit of the “extra consulting charges” that usually find their way into these large Barbados government projects.
Doctor Walcott also said that the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) plans to restore twice-weekly garbage collections throughout the island. (Nation News article here.)
Ok, Doctor. That’s a start – because before we start cleaning up the mess around the island, Bajans must have frequent, reliable and scheduled garbage pickups. I guess it took the Owen Arthur government twelve years to figure that out.
Greenland National Park Shouldn’t Be a Garbage Dump
Now, just where are we going to put all that trash? The Minister of Health thinks that Greenland National Park would be an ideal place, as does Environment Minister Liz Thompson – despite objections that Greenland is not stable or suitable for a landfill.
Minister Thompson also says that she will now be dealing with illegal dumping in gullies and the hundreds of other dump sites around the island. We will believe it when we see it.
Minister Thompson said the same thing last year and the year before that and…
On July 17, 2005, Minister Thompson said that 35% of the garbage in the gullies was the fault of the construction industry. She also revealed that of the 500 kilometres of gully space in Barbados, over 400 kilometres are illegal dump sites!
On June 5, 2005, Environment Minister Thompson admitted a connection between the illegal dumping and water quality and supply problems. From an article in the Nation News…
The minister said indiscriminate dumping was having an impact on our groundwater supply.
“We are finding linkages occurring between illegal dumping and problems with groundwater run-off and drainage.
“When there is heavy dumping, there is an adverse impact on run-off . . . [so] there is flooding occurring where it normally wouldn’t,” Thompson-McDowald explained.
She also cautioned that with the illegal dumping, “anything could be going into the water system and finding itself in our taps”.
These complaints go back at least a decade, so why hasn’t the government acted?
Not everyone in the government thinks we have a problem. As recently as August 5, 2005 the Government’s own Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Erskine Griffith, and Parliamentary Secretary Rudy Grant dismissed charges that Barbados “was overrun by garbage.”
So when the Owen Arthur government announces a “new initiative”, you can understand why Bajans respond “No more talk. Just show us some action.”
To that we add, “…and we’d like to see the accounts as well.”