Residents of St Lawrence, Christ Church say they feel as though they have been the forgotten victims throughout the long-running south coast sewage crisis and are calling on Government to treat to their plight with more urgency.
They say that had it not been for the reported closure of the St Lawrence Primary School this week because of the worsening effluent overflows, many would be left with the impression that the problem is only affecting commercial enterprises along the coast road.
The Christ Church School has been closed since Monday with its 210 students currently scattered between the Arthur Smith Primary, St Matthias Church and the St Lawrence Anglican Church in the same parish.
Speaking to the media at the school on Friday, impacted residents who gathered to receive donations from the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to aid in their relief efforts said that while they applaud Government’s action in relocating the students from the hazardous environment, many of the children return to the same unsanitary environment when the school day is over.
“The mosquitoes are outrageous and you can’t sleep when the night comes, the smell is not getting any better,” said one woman, who did not want to be identified, claiming that she feared victimization.
“We understand that the Government cannot do everything but we of Christ Church South need help. We are pleading and we are crying out because we need it. The children have to take this scent in every day. If I live so close to the school and on evenings I can’t take the smell, then what about the children that live here?”
Others complained that while cleanup efforts have been concentrated in the business areas, it is very seldom that they see septic trucks operating in their area.
“They go and pump off all the other big places, like the business places. We could have gotten that little aid because the well that is causing the problem is not active every day, so they could pump it the morning and then pump it the evening. I saw the Minister of Health [John Boyce] and I asked him for help and nothing came of it,” another female resident who also spoke anonymously said.
“Even if they [Government] just come in our neighborhood and see what is going on, the sewage is going straight in the swamp, the fish are dying and the mosquitoes are going to breed even more because the fish eat the larva,” added another resident, who revealed that she and her neighbors have been suffering from nausea and other flu like symptoms in recent weeks.
Resident of 71 years, Carlton Cronye said that the increase in the mosquito population has made him very sick since December 2017. He argued that the decision by some businesses to pump off sewage overflows from their property in the neighboring Graeme Hall swamp was killing nature’s effective way controlling the mosquito population.
“We all got to do something about these mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are young vampires. They will suck yuh blood and kill you dead. If they go into that sewage water and pick up that germ, they going come and make you sick. I had dengue three times and also chikungunya. I don’t know what next we going get from these mosquitos,” the aggrieved south coast resident said.
“I told John Boyce that the fish in the swamp gasping for air and then Sunday morning we see a lot of the fish dead. The fish is what does control the mosquitoes. Without them what are we going to do?”
Meanwhile, BLP candidate for Christ Church South Ralph Thorne said that it was time that Government stops pretending that the problem is not as widespread.
“These are the forgotten victims in this crisis because a lot of focus and a lot of attention have been placed on the business places and legitimately so because a business place employs people and people traverse the main road. However, off the main road is an extremely big problem and it has made victims of the people who are living here and no attention is being paid to them. There is attention paid to the school in recent times but these people have suffered in silence and quiet dignity,” Thorne said.