It’s a case of two different tales along the south coast these days, with operators between Worthing and Hastings, Christ Church reporting a major ease in the sewage crisis, while businesses along Worthing Beach are now fuming over the impact of the awful stench.
When Barbados TODAY visited the area today, it was greeted by a number of relieved store owners who said the worst was now seemingly behind them after suffering major financial loss as a result of having to close their doors at the height of the crisis, which saw effluent bubbling up in the streets on an almost daily basis for well over a year.
However, shortly after the new Barbados Labour Party Government came to office on May 25, an ease was reported by Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams as six injection wells, commissioned by the previous Government, went into operation.
But what seemed at the time to be an immediate fix would fail two months later with Abrahams deeming the $3.7 million injection wells project a waste of taxpayers’ money.
And even while he complained bitterly that Government now had to find an additional $2.4 million to finance a new short-term solution, the Barbados Water Authority decided that, as a contingency, it would divert the waste through the Graeme Hall Swamp.
This has come as a mixed blessing with some businesses we spoke to today reporting increased sales now that the bothersome effluent is no longer flowing their way.
“So far I have seen a difference. The streets are more clean . . . . You don’t get the smell like before and people are actually coming back to the office,” said the proprietor of Christina’s Spa in Worthing, who did not want to identified by name.
Chief Executive Officer of the Bamboo Lounge and Night Club Steve Forde also told Barbados TODAY that his business was now officially getting off the ground after he was forced to delay operations for an entire year.
“The bathroom had been messed up because of the sewage . . . so we have to go over a whole bathroom,” he said, while questioning why a fix could be found “all of a sudden”.
“I had to lose so much money and business and go through a whole year of suffering,” the Worthing businessman lamented.
Across the road from him, the manager of Kelly’s Kloset Lora Hinds was over the moon that she was now able to resume operations after she was forced to close for several months due to sewage inundating her clothing store.
“Sewage was actually in the store and it was also being sprayed on the glass and the building as vehicles passed and did not slow down. But now things are much better, our loyal customers came back. Others are also coming in again. So yes, things are better now,” she said.
The owner of Pita Pan food outlet on Worthing, Sandra Downes, is also seeing better times.
“It’s a lot better. From the time the sewage was off the streets, things started getting better. I am very thankful to whoever is responsible for it. . . . My business has been doing better. We have seen an increase in volume of persons coming in,” she stressed.
The story was the same at the nearby Chicken Barn Restaurant, which was temporarily closed in May.
“We have seen a great improvement actually. Sales have gone up,” assistant manager Keisha Barton told Barbados TODAY.
Next door at Lucky Horseshoe, acting duty manager Stachianne Chase said “things have picked up a lot”.
At Lanterns Mall in Hastings things are also returning to normal after the stench from the sewage had virtually ground business to a halt.
But not all are smelling like roses.
When Barbados TODAY visited Worthing Beach, the smell of effluent was not pervasive but the complaints from small operators fuming over the indefinite closure of the beach certainly were.
The closure has come as a direct result of the decision by the authorities to divert the effluent through Graeme Hall Swamp and out into the sea.
“I make my business on the beach. Here is where I come every day. I don’t have a second job. I get my sales from visitors passing through, but now I am getting none because the beach is closed . . . and whenever people approach the beach and see these [closure] signs, they turn back,” said the owner of Tickkles Bar Joycelyn Browne, adding that she would like to get more information on the situation from the authorities.
Her neighbour, John Kirton, who owns the Wavebreaker Bar, expressed a similar concern saying he still has to pay rent to the National Conservation Commission even though he was not making any money.
“The sales are not there. This is my first sale in three days and it is now 3.30 p.m.,” he said as a visiting couple patronized his bar.
The sewage problem had also affected one catering business at Worthing to such an extent that its proprietor, who did not want to be identified, said it may never reopen.
“We used to cater for the pleasure cruise boats, but they pulled their business and if I know them, they are not going back with us again even though the sewage overflows are no more,” she lamented.
However, the nearby Gentle Breeze Apartment, which had not been getting any guests for several months, is again receiving guests, according to the manager who preferred not to give her name.
Abrahams is due to give an update on the situation on Friday.