A week after apologizing in Parliament for the sewage mess on the South Coast, Minister of Health John Boyce today used the same forum to reassure Barbadians that the issue was receiving urgent attention from experts.
Though not giving details, Boyce said money had already been made available and a technical team was actively “monitoring” the situation.
“Those charged with the responsibility of bringing about that effective repair on the South Coast . . . are monitoring it every hour of the day. We are monitoring the situation and the implementation of the solutions, which have been put to the country every hour of the day. The technical people, not the politicians, the technical people are putting in place the correct solutions and the funds have been made available and will continue to be monitored so that that correction at the South Coast can be achieved,” Boyce said.
His reassurance came during debate on a resolution for the compulsory land acquisition by Government for a roundabout in Upper Collymore Rock, Michael area.
Opposition Members of Parliament argued that while they supported the move by Government to address traffic issues, more pressing matters such as those related to the South Coast Sewerage Treatment Plant, lack of proper infrastructure in White Hill, St Andrew and lengthy wait for buses should take priority.
Suggesting that people’s safety was being ignored, Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Leader Mia Mottley called on the Freundel Stuart administration to wake up and smell the issues affecting residents and address them frontally.
“I think sir, if this Government does not have money to buy buses to get people home, if this Government cannot find money to get the South Coast Sewerage Treatment Plant functioning or even to do the emergency fix that is necessary
. . . how can we now find money to do new projects that are not yet on the table?” Mottley asked, at the same time demanding that Government makes available monies to fund the cost of constructing the roundabout.
“This Government has to wake up and smell the coffee and deal with its priority. Stop lulling people into a false sense of what else you can do when you cannot even get done that which you are required by law or required in the interest of public safety to be able to do,” she cautioned.
However, hitting back, Boyce said traffic management and road improvement were priorities in “a small island like Barbados”, while accusing the BLP of reducing the discussion to “a very puerile level”.
“Must we, because we have an urgent national priority dealing with at the South Coast, must we say we do no other business in the House of Assembly? How puerile can you get? How simplistic can you get in terms of our worth?”
Pointing out that the sluice gate at the Graeme Hall swamp was opened from time to time, including up to Sunday night, Boyce defended the decision to open it, saying it was necessary in order to allow proper water control in the swamp.
“If we don’t do that then people who live upstream of the swamp are seriously brought to jeopardy, not only by rising waters but by stench and odours developed in the decaying matter in the swamp. It is really as simple as that,” said Boyce.
Suggesting that the recent discolouration at Worthing Beach was as a result of “run off of effluence”, Boyce said such did not only occur at Worthing but “at many other beaches around Barbados from time to time depending on the land activity”.
Referring to a recent BLP branch meeting, Boyce accused the Opposition of “taking up a whole night to abuse people” while engaging in “gutter talk”.
“We have issues that we have to deal with from time to time, but fortunately we also have a team of experts, trained people in this area, who are charged with managing this society. If this administration is to be judged on these performances we understand that too,” said a passionate Boyce.
“But we want to correct the problem. We are correcting the problem. I say in here again, we empathize with those who have had to suffer and we are going to make sure that it gets right. And even as I speak these matters are being addressed and addressed urgently,” he assured.