Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick this afternoon rejected out of hand Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Leader Mia Mottley’s alternative plan for resolving the persistent sewage mess on the island’s south coast if her party were elected in the next elections.
Dismissing it as “political rubbish”, Estwick, who currently has lead ministerial responsibility for resolving the problem, also warned that no “fly by night plan with no scientific basis”, would do.
Yesterday, Mottley told a news conference her plan to fix the chronic sewage overflows included shutting down food businesses in the affected areas.
She acknowledged that workers at those establishments would be affected, but promised that a BLP Government would pay their wages, contending that there had been precedence to such payment.
Stressing that her Government would start implementing a number of plans within one week of attaining office, Mottley also suggested that hotels should make provision for their guests to stay at properties in unaffected areas of the island, while at the same time announcing proposals to buy membrane bioreactor (MBR) units, the biological wastewater treatment systems which provide effluent discharge suitable for water reuse.
She said these would not only treat the sewage on the south coast, but would later be used in a new sewage plant.
However, in a strongly worded address in the House of Assembly this afternoon ahead of the formal dissolution of Parliament on Monday to make way for general elections, an emotional Dr Estwick tore to pieces Mottley’s plan, calling it mere “political rubbish”.
He emphasized that the strategy which the Government was currently implementing was grounded in science, design and engineering work.
“So it is not a fly by night matter. It is science. It is observation, investigation and then determining how to solve the problem . . . not talking political rubbish,” the Minister of Water Resource Management said.
He told residents and business owners they should therefore give the Government time to allow its strategy to work.
“There is a problem to be fixed. It is a technical problem requiring technical solutions, not a political solution. It calls for design work, engineering analyses and a plan of action. There is a plan of action,” he insisted.
“And I am begging those residents on the south coast, give us an opportunity to execute that plan of action. The plan is, we will divert the effluent first. We are going to divert it. We are going to treat it. We are going to screen it and we are going to put it into three or four deep injection wells,” Dr Estwick said.
He assured that those wells were not at a point where they pose any threat to the potable water system, the marine life or the swamp in the area.
“You protect that because you can do geological evaluations of your rock formations as you go down . . . and evaluate those to determine how far you need to put your concrete casings,” an animated Dr Estwick told the final sitting of Parliament.
Mottley’s strategy for solving the sewage crisis also came in for harsh criticism from Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett, who labelled it as a foolish plan.
Accusing Mottley of being bereft of ideas, Blackett insisted that it was Barbados TODAY’s editorial on Tuesday which called on the Opposition Leader to bring her alternative plan, that drove Mottley into coming forward on Wednesday with a wishy-washy plan.
“If you don’t have any ideas, shut your mouth!” Blackett told the Opposition Leader.
Minister of Health John Boyce had earlier sought to defend the Government’s strategies to bring about a short and long-term solution to the sewage mess.
“We are making sure that the public is aware of the best practices that should accompany the kind of activities that we are having to face. We work with the police and the Ministry of Transport and Works with respect to the closure or non-closure of the areas of Highway 7. We constantly bring that matter to the table . . . and you would have noticed that
signage have been placed on Highway 7, appropriately warning drivers to be aware, to slow down, to drive with care,” he said, adding that while the situation was not ideal, it was a work in progress.
“And God knows we are closer to a solution now than we were, say, six or eight weeks ago. It is because of the coming together of heads, it is because of the coming together of ideas in terms of what is the best solution possible . . . and it is because of making available the money that is required,” Boyce stated.