Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has charged that Government is the chief offender when it comes to creating breeding conditions for the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus.
Addressing a Barbados Labour Party’s St Peter branch meeting last night, Mottley also contended that the recent public sector retrenchment programme had left the island without an adequate number of general cleaners and many areas of the island in an unsanitary state.
“There is no greater offender for derelict buildings and bush than the Government of Barbados,” she said, while highlighting recent reports of persons who had been prosecuted for harbouring unsanitary conditions.
The BLP Leader suggested that charges should instead be laid against officials in the current administration for the dilapidated state of public buildings and the unkept nature of public spaces.
“Is the Government going to prosecute the Minister of Housing Dennis Kellman, who is the chief landlord, and whose responsibility it is along with [Minister of the Environment Dr] Denis Lowe, to keep Barbados clean, and John Boyce who is responsible for public health?” Mottley asked.
She argued public safety and health were now seriously at risk with “virtually every major road in this country overgrown by bush”.
“When a country runs to bush, you create a wonderful environment for rodents and mosquitoes to flourish,” she warned.
The Opposition Leader said the situation was compounded by what she described as “a genuine epidemic of chikungunya”.
Contending that health officials were under-reporting the number of persons affected, she said: “everywhere you go the reports of illnesses, particularly joint pains, continue to hit us.”
Against this backdrop the St Michael North East representative fired off a number of questions to Minister of Health John Boyce:
“Will the Minister of Health tell the people of Barbados whether he intends to go back to the Minister of Finance and make sure that the 17 or so public health inspectors that were relieved of their jobs . . . will now be treated as more important than a Constituency Council department that is simply employing people to do nothing?
“Will John Boyce also tell us whether it is acceptable to him as Minister of Health to have one person in charge of mosquito complaints and investigation in the Vector Control Department for the whole island of Barbados?
“Will he tell us whether it is acceptable to him to have one person responsible for the investigation of rats infestation and complaints . . . knowing full well that once the dry season sets in we will move from chikungunya to the risk of leptospirosis?”