No matter what way you look at it, the ongoing sewage mess along the south coast is a crying shame.
That tourists and locals alike have had to stomach this situation for one full year is nothing short of scandalous, when you consider the negative implications for this island’s bread-and-butter tourism industry and for the general health and well-being of the country as a whole of having human faeces and other forms of improperly treated waste seeping out vicariously into the street, and, of all places, in the heart of this island’s tourist belt.
However, we are not about to jump aboard any Opposition bandwagon calling on residents and businesses to sue the Government, or demanding the immediate sacking of one minister or another over a matter that is clearly beyond their imagination, scope and competence and which did not suddenly develop overnight; so therefore the hands of the Barbados Labour Party are equally as unclean as those of the current Democratic Labour Party administration, when one considers issues of a lack of maintenance and the significant wear and tear that would have occurred at the south coast sewage plant over the past 20 or more years.
We also feel it is crying shame that anyone would seek at this stage to politicize what is clearly a national disaster of potentially epic proportions. Rather than castigating the Government and calling on residents and businesses to contact their attorneys, as the Opposition Barbados Labour Party would have done yesterday, we would prefer to see workable proposals being advanced for quickly and effectively resolving this mess.
Yes, it is the duty of the current Government to ultimately fix this problem, but our concern is that the same level of technical expertise will exist in the Barbados Water Authority at the end of June as that which exists today. So even if we have a change of Government, we are likely to be confronted with the same problem that obviously requires a fix that is presently out of this administration’s reach.
After diving face first into the waters at Worthings Beach last December in a PR stunt designed to reassure tourists in particular that the beach was still safe despite the ongoing sewage leaks, we have serious difficulty believing that Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy and Minister of Health John Boyce have simply been sitting on their hands in the hope that this sordid mess, which thankfully is only confined to sections of the south coast, would simply go away.
Equally hard to believe would be that our very forceful Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick has been quietly standing around in the hope of a miracle falling down from Heaven.
We are more inclined to believe, as they would have individually suggested as recently as this week, that the problems run far deeper that they were initially advised. Therefore, no patchwork solution, which is what Government has seemingly been busy implementing over the last 12 months, amid what are nationally recognized severe cost constraints, will work.
With that said it is clear that national priorities will again have to change. Ironically and lest we forget this is the same Government that was faced with severe water woes in another section of country just a year prior. And while that ‘national crisis’ has now been brought under some measure of control, we now have a major sewage issue on our hands and not for any lack of response on the part of the Barbados Water Authority.
At the end of the day though, we need an urgent fix.
We take Dr Estwick at his word that this matter is now engaging the attention of Cabinet and that apart from bringing in outside experts, approaches have been made to the Inter-American Development Bank for funding to assist us in replacing the aged sewage system which was built back in the 1990s and is currently riddled with breaches and leaks.
We expect to hear much more on this plan in the coming days and weeks.
For surely no tourists will willingly pay their monies to come to this island to frolic around in anyone’s mess. Neither will anyone attempt to hold their noses and head out to the ballot box to elect anyone without a clear idea of how they will be able to get us out of this most unbearable and awful stink.