Do the right thing!
That was the stern warning issued today by officials of the Ministry of Health, as one private hauler who was caught dumping illegally at Christie Village, St Thomas over the weekend, was ordered to clear the entire area of refuse, and to take it to the official dumpsite at Mangrove, St Thomas.
The name of the company involved in the unsightly and unlawful practice was not revealed, but a group of workers was seen clearing the entire area of garbage, under the watchful eyes of three environmental health officers, who used the opportunity to remind Barbadians of the harm caused by illegal dumping in terms of multiplying the island’s rodent population.
“I would like to emphasize that this is not an initiative of the Ministry of Health alone. Everybody in Barbados must come together to fight [against illegal dumping],” said Environmental Health Officer Ryle Rock, who revealed, “There is at least one rat per person in Barbados.
“If there are 280,000 persons in Barbados, there are 280,000 rats in Barbados. They compete with us for food, they compete with us for shelter and if we let it get out of hand then we will lose the battle,” he warned.
It was around 6 p.m. yesterday when a surveillance team from the ministry observed a truck dumping at Christie Village.
Rock said the vehicle’s licence plate number was taken down and the name of its owner ascertained from the Ministry of Transport and Works. The owner was then contacted and instructed to clear the site of all the garbage dumped there.
However, Rock said since the owner immediately complied with the Ministry of Health’s order, he would not be fined for dumping illegally.
Today’s clean up order was not the first issued by health authorities in response to the growing practice of illegal waste disposal across the island.
Although Government has been adamant that its recent imposition of a tipping fee was not to blame, over the past few months there has been a marked increase in indiscriminate dumping, particularly in areas such as Robinson Close, St Stephen’s Hill, St Michael; Bucks, St Thomas; Mount Wilton, St Thomas and Harlington, St Philip.
Rock has therefore cautioned, “Once we can ascertain the names and the persons who are dumping on the spot, they will be instructed to clear the whole spot.
He was however forced to acknowledge that even in the face of stepped up surveillance by the authorities, Government faced an uphill battle in trying to get Barbadians to stamp out the unsightly practice.
He told reporters that even though environmental officers were consistently visiting homes and seeking to educate Barbadians about proper disposal of their refuse, “all over Barbados people are just dumping illegally”.
He also said that his department continued to be inundated with calls about illegal dumping.
“Wherever people see vacant spots and secluded spots they will dump if they get the chance,” he complained, suggesting, “when we go overseas we comply, but when we are here in Barbados we do as we like and so we have to step up some programmes”.
Late last year Barbados TODAY highlighted the situation at Bucks where another private waste hauler was found to be responsible for the unauthorized dumping of waste from the Elegant Hotel Group, Lanterns Mall and Sunbury Plantation. It included freshly dumped chicken entrails and feathers, car tyres, coconut shells and discarded televisions. Quality Business Services was identified as the main culprit on that occasion.
And the Acting General Manager of the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) Rosalind Knight had promised to meet with the General Manager of Quality Business Services Ernest King to discuss the problem of unauthorized dumping at Bucks.
Since then, a stop order was also issued to businessman Troy Williams, operator of Williams Tool and Equipment, who was at the centre of a molasses dumping problem in the St Michael community.
However, despite warnings from the health authorities that those who fail to comply will face the courts for their transgressions, to date the officials have appeared reluctant to do so.