Barbados has no shortage of problems and pressing issues that urgently need the attention of the powers that be.
Some immediately come to mind – the vexing crime scourge, the high cost of living and of course the dreaded National Social Responsibility Levy currently at the centre of crippling indusrial action spreading daily across all sectors.
Of course, challenges are nothing out of the ordinary and can be surmounted once a resolve is made to take the proverbial bull by the horns, with a thorough assessment of the issue at hand followed by decisive action.
Unfortunately, too often in Barbados we dilly-dally on some problems – contract consultants, draft white papers, and commission studies – no matter how glaring or urgent the woe, until we have a disaster waiting to happen.
The situation in White Hill, St Andrew is a case in point.
Life for the residents of this rural, seemingly forgotten district has been perilously close to the fires of hell since a landslide that accompanied heavy rains in November 2014 virtually isolated the community. And the response has been abysmal at best.
It would be misleading to suggest that Government has done nothing- for it has- though simply not enough.
Admittedly after the main road to the community collapsed, Government condemned the road and constructed a temporary entrance back in December 2015. But months later, the area, which is prone to land slippage, had again broken away, leaving what could only be described as a treacherous footpath.
Government too had started the relocation of the near 100 households, but that process is yet to be completed and like the residents, we are anxious to get an update from Minister of Housing Denis Kellman and other interests responsible.
In November, 2016, Minister of Finance Chris SInckler assured that the Freundel Stuart administration had not abandoned the people of White Hill, while stressing there was simply no easy fix to the problems affecting the St Andrew community.
He assured that funds had been earmarked for the restoration of White Hill and the Ministry of Transport & Works had commissioned a major engineering assessment of the area because there were environmental and engineering hurdles to overcome.
The big question is, are the experts any clearer on the way forward? Little to nothing has been communicated to the people of White Hill since then.
Yesterday, a news team from this media house visited White Hill in response to cries from residents who are now grappling with a falling tree that could fall on high voltage electricity lines at any time.
The residents claim repeated calls to the Ministry of Public Works to visit the area to remove the tree have fallen on deaf ears.
It is baffling why the people of White Hill, Barbadians taxpayer, have to constantly plead for help. Haven’t they suffered enough?
Community spokesperson Carlitha Andrews summed up life in White Hill as misery.
“It is hard living in White Hill,” she said, pointing out that with all the prevailing problems, the residents had to make do with an unreliable transport system, which has caused some workers to lose their jobs.
Resident Margaret Gill was equally grim.
“This is three years we have been battling with this [broken road] here, Not even a makeshift track they give us to walk on. It don’t take a genius to figure this out. They had money to help we, where the money is? Old people can’t get out, not even the young ones can and it isn’t fair.”
Not only isn’t it fair, it unconscionable that this situation continues to drag on and on.
Heaven forbid if a major storm system or another natural disaster should affect this island we might not be prepared to cope with a possible tragedy in White Hill.
We have to admit that as a country we have failed the people of White Hill.
It is against this backdrop, that all Barbadians must rally with their countrymen in this forgotten district and press Government to return to the area, rouse the experts into action and find a lasting solution to this vexing problem before it is too late.