The worrying flow of raw sewage on south coast roads has not led to any reported disease outbreaks, according to Minister of Health John Boyce.
The minister told a news conference today at the Ministry of Health on Culloden Road, St Michael that this was mainly due to Government’s environmental efforts.
Visitors and locals alike, including businesses mainly in Hastings and Worthing, Christ Church, have been complaining bitterly about the ongoing problem which began sporadically over a year ago, but which has since developed into what the Barbados Water Authority has described as a crisis.
Many, including the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), have openly expressed concern about the possible health effects, particularly for those who must regularly traverse the sewage-littered roads.
However, Boyce today said even though there had been no reported health issues, the country was adequately prepared for any possible disease outbreaks.
“Barbados boasts of very sophisticated medical services by way of nine polyclinics and their staff who work very hard,” the minister said.
In a Facebook post today, former Minister of Health Elizabeth Liz Thompson warned that the continuing problem posed a threat to the water supply, pointing out that “if the sewage is visible above ground and is bubbling up through any space available, it must be worse underground where water pipes are located.
At the same time, Thompson called on the authorities to state if random testing of the water quality was being done, and if not, when Government intended to begin “to determine if there is any intrusion of bacteria or other compromise” of the water system.
The BLP has demanded that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart addresses the nation on the issue, with the party’s leader, Mia Mottley, stating last week there was a high level of anxiety by businesses and hoteliers, whom she said needed to know what was being done, not only in the long term, but immediately, to stop the disturbing flow of raw sewage on the roads.
“I am not surprised by the outrage of many Barbadians over the obvious indifference of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to concerns of a large section of our population over issues of serious national importance. It is inconceivable that the south coast of Barbados is under filth and sewage and the Prime Minister has nothing to say,” Mottley said.
“The situation does not only affect tourists but it also affects Barbadian businesses and residents. This is no longer a case of what the Government is going to do a year from now with a new plant, but rather what will be done next week so as to ensure that people whose businesses are already on the brink can continue to live,” the BLP leader added.
However, Boyce, who updated the media on Government’s ongoing attempts to bring relief to affected residents and businesses, today said there was no need for Stuart to speak on every issue.
Instead, the minister said, his comments on the matter would suffice.
“I can tell you that I am having a press conference on the issue so I can’t tell you if or when the Prime Minister is going to have any further clarification on the matter. In all fairness, as the Minister of Health I am a member of Cabinet and I am one of the authorities on the matter. So I thought it was time that I said something, and some may say that I am late but it is important to have proper information before you speak,” he stressed.
Boyce said he was in touch with businesses that had been affected by the spill, including popular restaurant Chicken Barn, which closed its Worthing branch due to the worsening situation.
“One of my neighbours, the owner and operator of Chicken Barn which has been closed, and there is the Worthing post office which has been closed as well, and other business places have been severely challenged. I want to assure the country that the Government is on top of this,” the Minister of Health said.