I have lamented the culture of the current Government of seemingly ignoring issues as they surface. The Government of Barbados does not care about opinions uttered in Today’s Woman, though.
The Government of Barbados does not even seem to care about interacting with any person or group in the island outside of its diehard supporters, as they meet at branch meetings across the island. Nevertheless, I write this week to reiterate my belief the Government of Barbados must become more transparent in its dealings.
Where there are concerns in the public, there should be engagement by our representatives to bring clarity. I do not expect today to be the day I get such clarity, but I think there are three issues that require the attention of the current administration.
Firstly, let me register a broad concern before I come to specifics. The Ministry of the Environment does not appear to be working in the way it was intended to. The ministry seems to be struggling to get on top of many challenges, and there is significant disconnect between the ministry and statutory organizations under its remit.
The result is that Barbados looks generally dirty and unkempt, and this seems set to get worse with the news that the Sanitation Service Authority will no longer be collecting garden waste.
I wholeheartedly agree that garden waste should not be collected as landfill deposit in Barbados. However, had the Government paid attention to the important task of keeping the air clear and the mines of communication open, we would have known what the alternative mechanisms to deal with this particular type of waste are.
Having a private contractor to collect and dispose of the waste will not fix the problem of its not ending up in the landfill. If there is no national or semi-national composting policy, we have only muddled the situation.
The National Conservation Commission has the land at its headquarters to create the requisite composting heaps. This compost can then be used to keep school lawns and other national gardens nurtured. It seems that simple to me.
Another reason why I question the seriousness of the structure of the Ministry of the Environment is the level of erosion happening on the eastern coast of the island. I took a hike from Bath Beach to Martin’s Bay a few Saturdays ago. I left the hike with a heavy heart after seeing the level of erosion occurring along that coast.
Barbados seems only to be interested in its heritage within the Historic Garrison. Meanwhile, just off Bath Beach the sea has taken a significant section of the Old Train Line.
In discussion with an elder who has lived in St John all his life, I came to recognize that the erosion is even more alarming than I had thought. He explained that the train track had been quite a way inland, and that there were at least two whole cricket fields which the sea had taken.
Although I call this man my elder, he is only about 55.
That St John rate of erosion in a “short” lifetime is alarming, and I cannot imagine that we pay a whole staff of people, support a stand-alone minister –– with ministry and statutory boards –– but can do no better to preserve our coastline. The trail I walked will be soon lost, and there are several large mature trees that have fallen into the sea owing to the erosion.
As this elder and I discussed the environment and St John, he also indicated there was a well behind his house which he had tried everything to have cleaned. He noted that before the well, there had been significant flooding in Zores in St John. The well, when it was dug in 1970, was 30 feet deep.
The residents have contacted the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Transport and Works, and The Drainage Unit. The little intervention residents got was to have a measurement of the well which put the current depth at nine feet. There are now at least ten households in the Zores area. With the hurricane season approaching, the residents are duly concerned about the possible outcomes.
Apart from the well in Zores, there are also a number of others on plantation land in Barbados which the owners would normally have cleaned in preparation for the hurricane season, but which they did not this year owing to shortage of funds. The plantations are still awaiting large sums of money owed to them by the Government for prior crops of cane.
Not only the residents of Zores will have headaches if the rains, which set in at the weekend, continue with any consistency. I think there needs to be some clearing of the air on the wells across the country, and who is readying them for this hurricane season.
The final concern on which I believe there needs to be some Government level discussion is the counterfeit money situation in Barbados. Last week, for the first time, I saw a note which a vendor questioned.
The $20 denomination had all the features of legal tender, including the silver security seal and the raised dots for the differently abled. However, the note carried a “Z” serial number with seven digits, as opposed to the regular eight associated with legal tender.
One letter is usually associated with one denomination, but the anomaly is the “Z” is appearing on $2, $5, $10 and $20 notes.
The air needs to be cleared. Is the “Z” note counterfeit money? Or is the “Z” note the money which has been printed by the Central Bank of Barbados as a part of Government’s current programme?
Crop Over is coming, and with individuals trying to make up lost income by catering to events like Grand Kadooment, they need to be made aware of what is going on with Barbadian money notes.
My island, my island! Still, every time I slip too far into lament, a good Samaritan comes along and cheers up my soul. I must say thanks to the manager of Chapel Plantation in St Philip, who sent a tractor to rescue me when I took an off-road shortcut and got solidly stuck.
Lesson learnt: shortcuts do not ever pay.
Can you think of any other person whose name begins with “M” learning the said lesson recently?
(Marsha Hinds-Layne is a full-time mummy and part-time lecturer in communications at the University of the West Indies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)