It could be another three months before the sewage problem on the south coast is fully rectified.
Barbados TODAY understands that while a short-term solution is already in the works, it will call for the importation of a special piece of equipment that could take up March to arrive here and be installed.
“You have to remember that a sewerage treatment plant is not an air conditioning unit, therefore all the necessary repairs cannot happen right way,” said one official, who pointed out that there were issues with all three parts of the south coast sewerage system, namely the collection system, the processing plant and the outfall pipes.
Other sources close to the official discussions have also revealed to Barbados TODAY that the equipment purchase is to be funded through the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc, but they did not want to go into further detail on the matter, even though they reported that the Barbados Water Authority was currently short on cash and therefore was not in a position to carry out the necessary maintenance, which is said to be a contributory factor to the current problem of sewage leaking out onto the streets.
Government Senator Harry Husbands yesterday revealed that south coast problem would cost Government $1 billion to fix.
Speaking during debate in the Upper Chamber, Husbands further revealed that the Social Partnership – which comprises Government, the private sector and the labour unions – was recently summoned to a meeting, at which “item one on the agenda was the issue of the challenges with sewage on the south coast”.
“The people at the [Barbados] Water Authority, the Manager and the Chief Engineer, reported what it would cost, not only the South Coast Sewerage Project, but the entire cost of rebuilding the entire water system that was allowed to fall into disrepair under the [former] Barbados Labour Party [administration], they said it would cost $1 billion.
“I want to say that we had, at the level of the Social Partnership, full discussion on this issue of sewage on the south coast [and] even on the west coast. The meeting was that far,” said Husbands, the parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Education.
He said in addition to asking some “detailed and pointed questions” the private sector and labour union representatives put forward some solutions that were “taken on board” as Government “sets about to get the corrective work done”.
“As a result of those discussions at the Social Partnership the resources have been mobilized to deal with this issue on the south coast of Barbados. I am confident that the Government has taken the correct approach in dealing with this matter,” he added.
He was responding to accusations levelled by Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) spokesman on the environment Senator Wilfred Abrahams during debate on a resolution for the compulsory acquisition of land by Government in the Upper Collymore Rock area to build a roundabout.
Accusing Government of trivializing the problem, Abrahams said it was time that the Freundel Stuart administration explain exactly what the problem was and what was being done to correct it.
The BLP spokesman also suggested that the land acquisition was “optional” and therefore should not take precedence over the sewage problem, or for that matter, the current shortage of garbage trucks or the recent drought affecting the island.
Describing the sewage situation as “catastrophic” and bordering on “dangerous”, Abrahams said: “The people need reassurance from their Government that the matter is being taken seriously and steps are being taken to correct it. The tourists need that reassurance too.
“It is not good enough to say we are looking at it. By now the problem should have been identified to the point where somebody in authority can come out and say this is what the problem is.”
Stressing the need for firm action to resolve the issues emanating from the South Coast Sewerage Project, which have resulted in effluent flowing onto the streets, he said: “Lip service does not do anybody any good. We need to see action on this and a conclusive statement from somebody in authority as to what is being done and when you expect it is going to be cleared up . . .
“I am afraid that somebody or a collection of people get sick as a result of this. This situation, coupled with water shortages is a recipe for disaster.”
However, Government Senators Maxine McClean and Andre Worrell joined with Husbands in dismissing Abrahams’ concerns.
In fact, Worrell accused Abrahams of engaging in “histrionics” while advising that he should instead “sit back and try to understand and stop trying to feed fear and doubt” to the Barbadian public.
“I just want to urge that we get away from this dramatic form of politics and we start talking facts and start preaching solutions about things that will help to turn this country around,” advised Worrell during Wednesday’s Senate debate in which independent Senator Sir Roy Trotman also raised concern that “not enough public statements” were being made by Government on pertinent matters.