The costly vandalism of property and equipment owned by the state-run National Conservation Commission is on the decline.
General Manager of the NCC, Keith Neblett told Barbados TODAY that the public had been much more respectful of the commission’s property in recent times.
“I think the public has been really coming on board with us, particularly as it relates to littering and the protection of a lot of equipment. I mean, five, six years ago, we were having a lot of concerns in terms of the destruction of a lot of our play parks and the littering,” Neblett reported.
However, he revealed that the state department had not been seeing that level of littering these days.
“I mean, you still get that, but it is not at the same stage that we were seeing. But I think that a lot of Barbadians are coming on board and trying to maintain the areas, especially when they are going to use the parks and we applaud them for that,” added the General Manager.
Neblett informed this newspaper that the statutory board was working with schools on a series of programmes, including tours of the headquarters.
“We share with them, what they can do in trying to keep and maintain a nice environment around them,” he added.
Of major concern, though, was the unhealthy conditions which vagrants who slept in their parks, were creating.
“One of the things that we are seeing is that they (vagrants) go and they leave the place dirty, they defecate and urinate and that is an issue for us. So it is more than the sleeping; and then they go and disrupt the garbage and they litter,” Neblett declared.
He also raised particular concerns about the safety of its field workers who were often confronted by vagrants, when the staff was on duty.
“That’s a problem. We’ve had some attacks by vagrants on our staff, so we have warned our staff to be very careful in terms of their approaches to them. Rangers are trained to deal with it, but our general workers, we’ve always told them to be cautious, and do not irritate them. Because sometimes they (vagrants) don’t understand why people are there,” he observed.
Neblett suggested, too, that vagrancy was a social problem that needed addressing expeditiously. He noted that these homeless people would not normally go onto private property to sleep, but would chose government places.
“Don’t matter how you cordon off here. Queen’s Park is a good example. Queen’s Park is used by us, it’s used by Spartan (Cricket Club) and by [the] NCF. So we don’t have
any control when Spartan uses it, so you can’t … and even if you have it fully cordoned off, people still find ways that they would climb the wall, cut the fence and come in; and they find that Queen’s Park is a perfect place,” Neblett pointed out.
He argued that vagrancy was evident at Oistins, where, after hours, people slept in the band stand; and the same problem was at the Bay Street Esplanade.
“I think there is some element of it at Hastings Rocks. So wherever we have open spaces you have the vagrants. So it has to be addressed in terms of providing the avenues where the vagrants could be better housed, but some of them don’t even like to go into those places,” argued the business executive.
He was of the view that the “good” work which the Barbados Vagrants & Homeless Society was doing to get them transformed, would help in alleviating the problem. However, Neblett said there was not much the NCC could do, apart from controlling the vagrants during working hours, to ensure they did not pose a threat to the public. (EJ)