Businesses on the sewage plagued south coast have rejected a call for the area to be shut down in order to fix the problem.
Those operating from Lanterns Mall in Hastings, Christ Church, one of the worst affected by the constant flow of sewage, admitted the spill was problematic.
However, many of them, including Tabari St Ville, a sales representative at Play game store, said a shutdown would be catastrophic.
“For us to shut down that would not be a very good solution,” St Ville told Barbados TODAY.
“It would be inconveniencing a lot of people. Not only the people whose livelihood is in this mall and around this area, people who come and get their items from us. That is not the correct solution,” he said.
“This is how we get work on the table. Not everyone has a Plan B, not everyone has a second job. You are taking away our only job and telling us to hold on until you fix something you claimed to have fixed already. It will hit a lot of people really hard, especially those who depend on us to get their products. That is a huge problem,” the sales representative added.
It was on Tuesday that Senior Lecturer in Management Science at the University of the West Indies Dr Dwayne Devonish quoted unnamed senior officials of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) as expressing the view that “you would have to shut down the south coast” in order to end the sewage crisis.
And in making a case for people who work in the affected area, Devonish appeared to support this conclusion.
“That would mean hotels, restaurants, what we call the most active parts of the south coast. But here is the thing, a politician might not like that . . . a business owner might not like that because that is money out of pocket and there is no guarantee that I am going to be compensated afterwards,” he told participants attending the second day of the 2018 Week of Productivity seminar at Solidarity House.
“But you are not hearing the discussion or narrative about the workers. What about the workers? Yes, to be fair, if you have to shut down for a few months it would mean clearly that you as a worker you wouldn’t have employment and we know the seasonality of tourism. But at the same time what about the health risks? I am not hearing that. What about things like cholera, what about gastro? So environmental health becomes a central priority . . . . This is a critical point that we cannot ignore,” the UWI lecturer added.
Lisa Harris, the owner of The Party Club accessory shop is one of the business leaders who do not like the idea.
Harris said despite the overpowering stench, customers were still patronizing her store.
“So far I only had a complaint from one customer who was asking for delivery because of where we are located, but my customers aren’t badly affected. People are still coming to the mall,” she stressed.
“I do not believe that it is in the country’s best interest to close down the businesses on the south coast. At the end of the day businesses still have to make money and operate. If we have to shut down I will be directly affected.”
The impact of the ongoing spill was explained by one merchant who requested anonymity.
He told Barbados TODAY with sewage “literally right in front of the entrance of the mall” motorists were avoiding the area altogether “so where we would have an influx of people coming the scent is putting a damper on sales tremendously.
“I hope I won’t have to close down. I would prefer that Government moves hastily to rectify the problem. I think that would be better for everyone.”
Extremely hard hit by the sewage flow are food establishments, as locals and visitors alike become increasing apprehensive about patronizing those businesses.
Supervisor at Urban Kitchen Carissa King told Barbados TODAY her business has taken a financial hit because of a major decline in the number of patrons.
“The sewage has been affecting us tremendously. When you looking in terms of finances, we are losing in a major way and it is worse on weekends. If the businesses have to close down our employees will be out of work. We won’t want anyone to go home,” she said.
However, not everyone is opposed to the idea of a shutdown.
Over at Terodo’s Bajan Cuisine employee Monica Bovell said she was willing to take a temporary financial hit if this meant the problem would be resolved.
“The sewage is ridiculous. Right now it is lunchtime and we aren’t getting enough traffic as is the custom. I don’t know what will happen, but soon we will have to shut shop. If we were to stop work and they could fix the problem, it may be a good thing. If it would benefit me and I had to go home so it can be fix, I would,” Bovell said.
This afternoon, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley announced that a Barbados Labour Party administration would close food businesses operating in the area to try to get to the bottom of the sewage spill.
However, she said workers would be compensated, although she did not say where the money would come from.