Graeme Hall wetlands being destroyed for want of a sluice gate
Congratulations, folks… we got another loan! I’ve lost track of how many hundreds of millions of dollars our grandchildren owe to the IADB and other global bodies. Does anybody know?
According to Prime Minister Stuart, this new loan makes Barbados “a champion of coastal best practices”. Wow! All you have to do is borrow the money for a study (yes, a study), make an announcement and you’re a “champion”. Once again in Barbados it is words that matter, not achieved results. (See Caribbean 360 Prime Minister touts coastal management project)
The amazing thing about these loans is that without many exceptions the money is always for “studies” and “initiatives” that never seem to have a tangible result or quantifiable success. Smart guys, these politicians (for they are 99% men) – they never set themselves up for failure by announcing projects where the results can be measured and compared against pre-established benchmarks for success.
Even when they are supposed to establish a hard infrastructure component, the record is terrible. One example: We borrowed the money for a waste treatment plant then spent the money on something else. We now have no money and no waste treatment plant. Gotta love those politicians!
Also missing from the Prime Minister’s analysis that Barbados is an environmental “champion” is his government’s abysmal record on the environment. We don’t even have an Environmental Protection Act. That’s right folks… Barbados has no environmental laws pertaining to the land, air or inland water. We have no environmental regulations about the storage, use or disposal of deadly chemicals. No environmental regulations requiring pipeline operators to monitor and report leakage. We’re still pulling up jetfuel from coastal wells around the Shell airport pipeline and there’s nothing the government will do about it because there is no law against it and zero enforcement. Not to forget the government itself dumping raw sewerage into the RAMSAR protected Graeme Hall wetlands! Unbelievable.
And, one of the first acts of the new DLP Government when elected four years ago was to remove the environmental protections to allow development on the coastal watershed surrounding the last remaining mangrove swamp. Freundel Stuart and his DLP kissed goodbye to the Graeme Hall National Park so they and their developer friends could make money.
True to form, our new loan is for a study: “a comprehensive evaluation of the risks and vulnerabilities of Barbados to storm surges and tsunamis.”
In and of itself, this study is probably a good and necessary project – but in our hearts we know that it would never be happening without the loan. And who will do the studies (for their will be many components)? That’s another whole issue and it’s a valid one because it is common practice for the ruling party of the day to hand off some of the work to friends of government. That’s a given and with the sad state of our and the world’s economy don’t ignore how studies like this one are a tool for funneling money into the local economy. Aside from the central reason behind the study, we’re borrowing the money to help keep the wolves away from the door.
Back to managing perception compared to the reality of actions:
The last remaining mangrove forest on the island is slowly being killed off for want of an operating sluice gate. The canal leading to the gate is breaking down more and more every time the government machines come near to dredge the sand from the channel. The sluice gate has been broken for 15 years or more, but the government won’t repair it because they and their developer friends want to kill the Graeme Hall wetlands…
… so they can build on it and make money.
That is the truth about Prime Minister Stuart and his “environmental champions”.