Business owners and residents of Worthing, Christ Church were less than impressed that Government officials were a no show for tonight’s town hall meeting held at the Coast bar, Worthing to discuss the ongoing problem of awful smelling effluence flowing into the streets along the South Coast.
While those gathered took the opportunity to share their concerns about what many have deemed to be an environmental emergency, the prevailing theme at the near two-hour long meeting, which began at 6PM was one of disappointment over the fact that the relevant decision makers were not in attendance.
However, one of the convenors of meeting, business journalist Pat Hoyos informed those in attendance that Minister of Health John Boyce, Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick, General Manager of the Barbados Water Authority John Mwanza and General Manager of the National Conservation Association Keith Neblett were all invited to take part in the meeting.
“The first thing I want to point out is that this meeting is really a waste of time because we are all going to get up here and philosophize about what should and shouldn’t happen, but it is all for nothing because the Government isn’t here,” lamented returning national Russell Winters.
He added that “what people really want to know is, what are the results of [testing done on] the discharge from the sluice gates?
“I think it is important that we drill down to the bottom of what is going on here because this is collectively our island,” he said to loud applause from the audience.
However, members of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) supported tonight’s meeting.
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, in addressing the gathering, categorized Government’s absence as a “sad example of misplaced priority”.
“Our responsibility is to interact with people whom we govern and therefore the comments that I may have this evening cannot [be] on behalf of the Government . . . ”
“Accidents happen, bad maintenance regrettably in this instance has happened, which has led to a continuous set of accidents. I suspect that none of you are interested in the allocation of blame as you are in the repairing of the problem and . . . Government [has] to ensure that it does not happen again and this is why I am, to say the least, horrified that there is not an engagement with you here,” said Mottley, who was joined by fellow BLP members Kerrie Symmonds, Dwight Sutherland, Ryan Straughn and Wilfred Abrahams.
Mottley also lamented the fact that Parliament had opted to go into Christmas break without setting out a comprehensive plan to deal with the ecological issues along the South Coast.
It was also clear that those in attendance did not share the confidence of either the Minister of Health or the Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy about the water quality at Worthing Beach.
Last week both men dived right in for a dip in the ocean in the full view of the media, in a move designed to reassure Barbadians and tourists that Worthing Beach was safe.
However, many residents said tonight they had not ventured back there since the all clear was given by the Environmental Protection Department.