Minister of Health John Boyce today apologized to business operators, residents and tourists who have been affected by awful runoff from the faulty South Coast Sewerage Project that has so far forced the closure of Worthing Beach.
Speaking in the Lower House of Parliament during debate on a resolution to guarantee a $12 million loan for the Hilton Barbados Resort, Boyce, who is also the parliamentary representative for the area, revealed that the technical team investigating the matter was ready to hand in its first report and that Government had already secured the necessary material to correct the problems at the sewerage plant.
“We certainly want to apologize to those who have been affected by failures of the system from time to time and I hope the point that we have reached in terms of our discussions with the team from the different ministries will see us have this matter corrected for some time,” said Boyce, the Member of Parliament for Christ Church South.
“I am fairly comfortable in my mind that action is being taken in terms of procurement . . . of the equipment required to carry out an immediate repair to the equipment at that South Coast Sewerage Project so that plant can be fully operational,” he added.
The Minister of Health also rubbished concerns that Government was not treating the matter as a priority, while warning critics that “we must not curse our country when we have to manage these crises”.
This was in an obvious reference to Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and other Barbados Labour Party members who visited the area yesterday to hear the concerns of residents and business owners.
During that visit, Mottley also appealed to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to intervene in the situation, which she said was nothing short of a “crisis”.
However, in response to Mottley’s appeal, Boyce sought to assure that “these matters are being handled [and that] the Prime Minister is well on board”.
He also assured that Cabinet was fully seized of its responsibilities in the matter, while revealing that “the Minister of Agriculture, who has responsibility for water, the Minister of Tourism and I spent a lot of time on [Worthing] Beach on Saturday with the technical people [considering] how do we go from here.
“We do not have to treat our country’s name as badly as we can in order to achieve a solution,” he added.
Declaring that Barbados was open for business, Boyce said there was no need for anyone to avoid the popular south coast.
“The restaurants on the south coast are up and running. Like any other facility they are properly monitored, so the health standards are assured. So we can go and we can sit, we can eat and we can enjoy what is offered on our south coast tourism belt,” he stressed.
The Minister of Health also said that all the required warnings had been shared with visitors to ensure “there will be no incident of ill-health as a result of any of these activities”.
He also warned that the problems emanating from sewerage project should not be confused with the current discoloration at the Worthing Beach, which he insisted was coming from the nearby Graeme Hall swamp.
“When the mixing occurs, naturally the brownish colouration of the swamp would interfere with the beautiful pristine waters of our beaches. And this has occurred from time to time and this is not anything new.
“Whenever there is an over collection of water in the swamp it is necessary to allow that run off to occur,” he said.
Boyce also strongly defended the decision to set up the South Coast Sewerage Project as a primary treatment plant, saying it was not made “willy nilly”, but based on scientific advice.
He also said the island had to take a decision on the future management of its sewage, while warning that upgrades would come at a high price.