Against the backdrop of advisories issued this week by the governments of Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States to their citizens about the sewage mess along this island’s south coast, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart last night saw the need to remind visitors from those and other countries that Barbados was by no means perfect.
In fact, he told those gathered for a special reception at his official residence, Ilaro Court, after the warnings by Canada and the US, which were issued on Tuesday and yesterday, and ahead of the one by the British, which was issued today, that the only thing perfect was God.
Stuart also warned that like Barbados, countries such as Canada, the US and the UK were less than perfect, after they saw it fit to caution their citizens about visiting the island.
“We have never pretended to be a perfect country . . . . We are still limited to the standards of ordinary men and women. Perfection I’ve always contended is the exclusive preserve of the Almighty.
“In fact, I don’t know of any perfect country on this planet,” the Prime Minister told the visitors, adding that “the countries from which you have come are not perfect. In fact, if they were perfect you would not be here”.
In the latest such advisory issued today, the British government warned in a statement issued on its official website, as well as on the British High Commission to Barbados’ website, that “certain areas of the south coast are experiencing breakdowns of sewage pipes.
“Leakages are occurring; you should avoid coming into direct contact with raw sewage and normal hygiene precautions should be followed,” the UK government added.
Similar warnings have been issued by Canada and the US in the face of persistent sewage leaks for which a permanent fix is yet to be found.
However, Stuart, whose Government remains on the back foot over its handling of the matter, made no direct mention of the worsening crisis nor any strategies that would be undertaken by his administration to produce a lasting fix.
But he stressed the need for a “congenial and comfortable” environment for Barbadians to enable them to welcome tourists, upon whom the island’s economy depends for its survival.
“Tourism is the lead sector of our economy and therefore it is important to us that we do nothing to undermine or to weaken the confidence which you have continually displayed in Barbados over the years,” the Prime Minister told dozens of visitors, some of whom have visited the island more than 30 times.
“In ensuring that we create the kind of environment which induces you to continue to visit Barbados we take the position that we have to make Barbados a congenial and comfortable place for the people who live here first, because if you come to this country and our citizens are unhappy people, then the warmth and the hospitality which you would expect to have extended to you would not be extended because warmth and hospitality cannot be easily extended by people who are unhappy with their environment or what is happening in it,” he added.
It was the closest that Stuart has come to suggesting that his Government was doing all in its power to remedy the sewage problem, which has now emerged as an urgent priority for his administration given the threat posed to the island’s reputation as a whole, and the general well-being of citizens, particularly those who live in, or come into contact with, the sewage affected south coast.
Earlier this week, Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George revealed that there were 35 suspected cases of gastroenteritis reported in the area.
The figure did not include the suspected cases of five English visitors who claimed they had fallen ill with gastro after dining at a restaurant located in the heart of the sewage leaks.
Joanne Collins reached out to Barbados TODAY on Tuesday in an effort to contact local health authorities regarding the misfortune she suffered, along with her partner David Heads and three of their friends for which they have since received a written apology from the restaurant in question.