Barbados’ infrastructure is in a “woeful state,” and while the Government does not have the finances to deal with all the issues it will prioritize the critical needs, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has said.
She made the comment following a day-long tour of flood-affected communities following the passage of Tropical Storm Kirk. The system dumped heavy rain on the island over a 12 hour period — from Thursday night into the wee hours of Friday morning.
“The . . . truth is that we have found a deficit in the country’s infrastructure. Our country’s infrastructure is in a woeful state and we need to be able to deal with it. We don’t have the money to deal with all at once but we have to prioritize what we need to and between the various ministries we are going to go after it systematically.
“We also have some development work that we have to do with respect to loans that will be critical,” Mottley who was accompanied by several Cabinet Ministers and other officials told reporters.
She further explained that the biggest claim on public infrastructure was water and sewage, followed by drainage and roads.
“You can’t ignore [the] infrastructure for as long as we have been ignoring it and expect that it is still going to function in the same way. So when we say sometimes to people that we are focusing on needs, and not wants, it’s because we understand that the needs of the country in terms of public spaces is able to avert drainage problems . . . able to avert flooding . . . able to avert problems with the roads . . . . All of these things are as a result of a lack of attention to detail and not prioritizing how we spend public money,” Mottley added.
The Prime Minister who arrived in the country early this morning, after cutting short her attendance at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said her administration and other Government agencies will meet on Monday afternoon to get formal reports on the level of damage done by Tropical Storm Kirk.
“The problems that we have are not insurmountable but we have to deal with them. In some cases there were fixes that can be dealt with immediately by the Ministry of Public Works and the Drainage Division. In other cases we will have to assist those that have been very badly affected through the Government agencies that are set up to do that. In other cases we will need to have more medium term to long term solutions,” the Prime Minister said even as she urged residents to keep their surroundings clean.
“I want to be able to meet with Cabinet for us to discuss how we can have a better decentralized system where communities and households, and not just Government, can help us in this effort to be able to keep Barbados clean,” she revealed.
Mottley also disclosed plans for a “major national preparation exercise” when the 2018 hurricane season comes to a close.
“We are not waiting until next June because these things are affecting too many people and in ways that are substantive. So early in the new year we are going to have some . . . simulation exercises . . . .because the bottom line is that if we don’t take care of each other in preparing for this, then what happened in other jurisdictions will cause too many people regrettably to die. Most people don’t die from the water itself, they die from the consequences of it and then the other big problem afterwards is security. So these are the things that we have to get right,” the Prime Minister explained.(KK)