At least one prominent resident who has been adversely affected by the offensive garbage dump at Lower Estate, St George is suggesting that last week’s abatement notice issued by the Ministry of Health ordering the closure of the landfill, may have been politically motivated.
Even though former President of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners Dr Carlos Chase is happy the ministry has finally taken action, he is disappointed that it took the Government department two years to respond to a number of written complaints by residents.
“As a resident, I am pleased the ministry has decided to act. It has come two years after individuals had written to them. But I guess with the advent of hundreds of people [being] upset, you couldn’t ignore that,” Chase told Barbados TODAY, while also highlighting the fact that it was an election year which is “supposed to be a period for galvanized action and other things as well.
“Be that as it may, we are happy that this is what it has come to and we hope the matter is resolved permanently and that we can be rid of the menace,” he said.
Another resident, Roger Craigg, who has been coordinating efforts by the residents to monitor the actions of waste hauler Anderson Fat Boy Cherry, who owns the Lower Estate dump site, was also somewhat pleased with the action taken by the authorities on Friday to shut down Cherry’s Project Recycle.
“We are happy with the decision by the Ministry of Health. We were hoping for a decision ever since. We are glad that they have actually stepped in now, along with other Government agencies and given us what we were asking for. We are not totally overjoyed or over the moon about the decision. We would take one step at a time and monitor Mr Cherry and his business for the next four weeks at least to see what has taken place since the decision. We will then make our own determination from there going forward,” Craigg told Barbados TODAY, while pointing out that this was not the first time they were hearing talk of a closure of the garbage disposal site.
Craigg recalled that the residents had agreed since their first town hall meeting several months ago, which was attended by Cherry, that they wanted the landfill closed.
The Ministry of Health issued an abatement notice last Friday, instructing Cherry’s Project Recycle Limited to cease operations at the Lower Estate site.
The company was also ordered to clear the site of all materials within four weeks.
In a statement issued via the Barbados Government Information Service, the ministry said the order came after an investigation revealed that the site was being used as a dump, despite numerous complaints by residents of smoke and foul odours emanating from the compound.
“The Barbados Fire Service, along with Environmental Health Officers, were in the area again today responding to a report of smoke. As a result, the ministry has advised residents who may experience respiratory problems that they should seek medical attention at the Fast Track Service at the Winston Scott Polyclinic, Jemmotts Lane, which is open until 10 p.m. tonight and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday,” the statement said.
“Residents may also seek attention at the Accident & Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” it further advised.
Cherry, whose operations have been under close scrutiny, was previously served with enforcement and stop notices by the Town & Country Planning Department back in 2015 and again in April, 2016.
His controversial Lower State operation is also the subject of an ongoing court case.
When contacted this afternoon, Cherry apologized to all the affected residents, including those living in Airy Hill, Salters, Parish Land, Flat Rock and Hothersal Turning.
He also gave the assurance he would comply with all the ministry’s orders.
Cherry, who had told the last town hall meeting at Salters Church of God he would close down the dump in nine months and that the “toxic” fumes would be gone in a couple weeks, said today he wanted the matter settled as soon as possible.
“I want to first apologize to the residents of the surrounding areas for any nuisances that have been created. And I want to say we will be looking into the matter. It is unfortunate what happened and we will be meeting with the ministry in the coming weeks to see how we can start executing their request,” he said, emphasizing that he would cooperate fully with all the relevant ministries on this issue.
“I just want to assure the residents of the surrounding areas we are working with the Fire Department, we are working with the various ministries and they are all onboard to try to have the problem rectified. I dso apologize and we do hope that this matter would be sorted out as soon as possible,” stressed Cherry, who is also chief executive of Jose y Jose Liquid and Solid Waste Management Inc.