In what pretty much seems like a case of deja vu, the south coast sewage problem has resurfaced and the authorities for some time appeared to be at a loss as to how to handle the recurring messy situation.
Tourists who had planned to stay in the area started cancelling bookings. Businesses were suffering and homeowners were clearly fed up. Many called for urgent action to be taken particularly after the popular local business, Chicken Barn, was forced to close its Worthing branch because of the stench emanating from overflowing raw sewage nearby.
A screenshot of concerned visitors cancelling their trips and advising others to do so on Trip Advisor and growing concerns about health and safety, prompted top hotel and tourism business officials to appeal for Government to deal with the problem urgently.
“A year after standing here and talking about problems with long waits at the airport and problems with the sewage system on the south coast, I was so disappointed, as many of us are, with the situation that we find ourselves in,” the straight-talking Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Chairman Roseanne Myers said.
Last weekend during an official tour, Barbados Water Authority (BWA) General Manager Keithroy Halliday apologized to the management of Chicken Barn, calling the development “extremely unfortunate”.
“I would like to say not only in respect to Chicken Barn, the residents and businesses in the affected areas but to Barbados on the whole, that regardless of blame and liability, we are empathetic and the situation is regrettable. If it has not been said before, the Barbados Water Authority wants to say that we are sorry,” Halliday said.
“We are sorry that we were not able to respond in a better timeframe given the realities that we are faced with. Whether justified or not, at the end of the day we appreciate and understand the difficulty that most residents and workers have to undergo on a daily basis,” he added.
His apology was a little too late for one of our readers, who said: ”Sorry is not good enough! This is a typical response from employees in the public sector and then the Minister gets blame for your failure. For months people have been complaining. Why did it have to reach this stage? Not good at all. I wonder who was really responsible. Was it not obvious that there was a block of some kind? How long did it take for you to call overseas consultants who probably installed the equipment?”
However, the BWA’s Waste Water Manager Patricia Inniss was less apologetic. “We had been speaking with Chicken Barn and the plan was to install a back-flow preventer until all of the problems were alleviated. For persons who think we have been doing nothing, we have ordered these items more than two months ago and the last report we received was that they were supposed to be here next week,” she explained.
Inniss’ comments did not sit well with many readers who openly chastised her over the matter. “The General Manager has come and apologized but, on the other hand, Ms Inniss is telling Barbadians don’t blame the Water Authority, neither is she offering any apology. She needs to be relieved of her position right away since she does not care,” one reader said.
Another commented: “This has been going on for too long, and Government has been sluggish in their response to the issue but to add insult to injury, Ms Inniss is coming come here instead of bringing a solution, she is being so callous in her response and blaming Barbadians for a problem that they should have seen coming and done something about every since.”
Since then, Halliday has announced that the BWA was embarking on a new strategy in the hope of bringing relief to long-suffering residents and business operators, who have been affected by persistent sewage leaks over the past year. While not offering any guarantees, Halliday told reporters that work would start immediately on linking the Bridgetown and south coast sewerage systems.
In this regard, he revealed that excavators, costing well over $1 million which had been ordered two months ago through Innotech, would be deployed by the BWA.
“I’m happy they are looking for solutions but wouldn’t this put a lot of strain on the Bridgetown sewer system as well, but I’m just an average man; not one in a blue suit making all the decisions,” another reader stated.