The vexing south coast sewage crisis has left a $20,000 hole in the pocket of one businessman who was forced to shut down his operation because of the ongoing mess.
Taking a break from hosing down the road leading to his Worthing, Christ Church property this afternoon, Raymond Mastor, who once operated his home-based catering business before shutting shop six months ago, told Barbados TODAY he was simply fed up of the empty promises from the authorities.
Mastor, who now resides in Canada, hurriedly travelled to Barbados earlier this week after receiving a distress call from his 66-year-old mother who complained about the dire situation she was facing, including a pungent stench and periodic flooding of the property and the road leading to her home.
“When I left in July it was okay and then it started again. I don’t know when exactly it started. But when I get the phone call from my mum [saying],‘I need help’, that is when I booked a ticket last week to come here this week. So I had to ask for time off from my job in Canada to come,” he said.
“This has been an ongoing problem for about five years and they [the authorities] waited until it has reached maximum
capacity that literally s**t is flowing and it is hard for me to leave my pregnant wife in Canada to come here to help my sick mum who is being affected with this,” Mastor complained.
Up to late this evening the top brass of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) was meeting in another attempt to come up with a short, medium and long-term solution to the problem, which has resulted in the closure of at least two other businesses and the Worthing Post Office within the last year.
Popular restaurant Chicken Barn officially closed its Worthing branch early last month after battling the problem of raw sewage flooding its compound for some time.
The recurring flow of raw sewage has also forced the closure of the once vibrant Gentle Breeze Hotel, located adjacent to Mastor’s property.
Out of fear of people getting ill, there have been recent calls for other food establishments in the affected areas, including Hastings, Christ Church, to close their operation.
Yesterday, health authorities confirmed a Christmas Day outbreak of gastroenteritis at some business establishments on the south coast, but said they found nothing so far linking it to the ongoing sewage mess.
Today, Mastor was able to pump off approximately 8,000 gallons of sewage water from his property, which was taken away by sewage trucks.
“I have had enough . . . I’ve just had enough of people promising. They said they were going to help with the pump. I had to go and buy a brand new pump for $800, along with $30 a day in gasoline. And then to hire someone to help at $250 a day,” he complained.
Asked how much he was now out of pocket as a result of measures he has been employing over the months to help his mother cope, Mastor responded: “I would round it up to $20,000 easily, and it is ongoing. Today alone I spent $550.”
He said he started to save his bills in anticipation of a lawsuit over the situation, although he had no details of the pending court action.
In order to keep the sewage water from flooding the house, Mastor said someone had to be employed to carry out daily work, which included pumping it from the property and washing down the driveway.
After speaking with the owner of Gentle Breeze Hotel, he decided to run a pipe from the boundary of the properties over to “a canal” across the road in order to divert some of the constantly flowing effluent water, he said.
Expressing disappointment at the closure of the hotel, Mastor said he was concerned that the situation was negatively impacting the island’s tourism product.
“It is hurting Barbados for the long-staying guests. It is just so sad because this was such a beautiful island and it is just being tarnished worldwide. Friends of mine in Canada aren’t coming,” he lamented.
He also said he was worried about a possible disease outbreak or an increase in the mosquito population as a direct result of the leak.
“Who is saying that this isn’t being forced into our drinking water? How can they prove that it isn’t?” he asked.
Mastor said the last thing he was told by the authorities was that each property in the affected areas would be allowed to have its own wells, and he complained that the sewerage system had not been properly maintained over the years, nor was it built to handle the current load.
Meantime, BWA Rapid Response and Communications Manager Joyann Haigh said the water company accepted there was a problem and was working to get it rectified.
Speaking on local radio this afternoon, Haigh said some of the intended equipment for the south coast sewerage system was already at the Bridgetown Port awaiting clearance.
“We want to let the public know it is not a quick fix. It is very technical and we are very comfortable with what the engineers are putting on the table and the assistance we are getting, but we just have to get everything together in terms of the equipment down. That is priority so that we can have room now to fix what we need to fix,” Haigh assured.