A senior Government official today offered a verbal assurance to the people of White Hill, St Andrew that they have not been abandoned by the Freundel Stuart administration.
However, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler warned that there was simply no easy fix to the problems affecting the rural community.
Sinckler told reporters even though funds had been earmarked for the restoration of White Hill, there were environmental and engineering hurdles to overcome.
“I know that the Ministry of Transport & Works has commissioned a major engineering assessment before we go in and try to put in a permanent fixture.
“We have done some temporary stuff there with some of the resources, but that’s not going to hold because, as you in Barbados know, the Scotland District area is always subject to slippage.
“So the question is, engineering wise, ‘do spend those resources in there, then an event [occurs] six months from now or a year from now and the entire thing washes away?’”
While receiving a cheque for
US$1.72 million from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility at Government Headquarters today, Sinckler also told reporters that the option of relocating residents had not been taken off the table. However, he said that too needed to be carefully assessed.
“Do you just abandon and seek to relocate?” he asked, while pointing out that there had been varying opinions on the matter.
“They used to talk about lawyers . . . [and] we also know that we have gotten that too from engineers and geologists who are studying the topography of the area and advising Government. Their simple advice so far is, ‘you don’t rush and do anything in there because you may not get the result that you want long term’.
“So we are holding on [the major road work in White Hill], but while we are doing that, there are other roads which have been affected by recent rainfall that we have utilized those resources. Fortunately, where they are going to be applied is not as challenging because of the flat roads in Barbados,” he added.
It is now two years since a large chunk of the main road leading into White Hill collapsed under the weight of waters from heavy rains.
To mark the anniversary on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and other members of her Barbados Labour Party journeyed to the rural community in a show of solidarity with residents in the BLP stronghold, who said theywere now at their wits end.
While bemoaning the absence of regular public transportation and the reluctance of emergency personnel to travel to the area, residents had accused Government of abandoning and “making a fool” of them.
However, Sinckler said the perceived slow response time was due to Government’s careful weighing of geographic, financial and engineering considerations.