So it looks like Barbados’ sewage crisis on the South Coast will soon be over.
Minister of Water Resource Management Wilfred Abrahams has reported that Government had begun construction and would soon be installing a temporary marine outfall off Worthing, which would solve the problem once and for all.
The minister said he hoped work could be completed before Christmas.
If that is indeed the case, it will be sweet relief for those homes and businesses along the South Coast tourist belt who have been plagued with the sewage crisis for the past two years.
And it also comes at the perfect time with the December 15 start of the tourist season just a week away.
At the height of the crisis, faeces overflowed from manholes and a pungent stench filled the air.
So serious was the situation that it forced some locally-owned businesses to shut up shop and even made the headlines in England and Canada, and as far as Germany whose foreign ministry issued a travel advisory.
“On the south coast of Barbados between Hastings and St. Lawrence, there is currently a problem due to heavy flooding from untreated sewage. Travellers should avoid this area and especially the beaches there and follow the instructions of the local authorities,” read the March 20 advisory from Berlin.
Worthing Beach has remained closed since July 7.
If indeed the crisis is now fixed and will not ‘pop up’ as it has done so many times before, then kudos are definitely in order for Government.
For almost a year and a half, the former administration tried everything in its power – so we were told – to fix the problem which threatened to derail this country’s largest foreign exchange earner sector, tourism.
Its final failed attempt was the installation of six injection wells at a cost of $3.7 million.
Since taking office following its May 24 landslide general election victory, the Mia Mottley administration has devoted significant time and energy to solving the South Coast sewage problem.
It is quite commendable that the issue might possibly be fixed in just seven months.
Barbados depends heavily on tourists flocking to its shores and any threat to that industry should be dealt with speedily and properly.
It is a shame, then, that the last administration did not put as much effort into finding a solution.
But now that the sewage crisis is soon to be “no more”, every effort must be made to ensure there is no recurrence.
While Government has to be praised for its perseverance, it also has to be held accountable for what transpired.
Several residents and businesses alike were tormented by the stench emanating from the sewage, their normal standard of living and livelihoods jeopardized.
Indeed, one business closed its doors as a result of the crisis and has not since reopened.
A popular restaurant was also forced to close temporarily, while a guesthouse reported a significant reduction in occupancy, with some guests even checking out of their rooms due to the unbearable stench.
These businesses and individuals should all be compensated for their troubles.
While the health of residents living between Hastings and Graeme Hall may have been affected, businesses have lost thousands of dollars in revenue.
Justice would not be served if those negatively affected did not receive compensation in some form or fashion.
While it may be true that Government might be short on cash, a middle ground has to be reached between the parties.
If nothing is done, it is entirely like that while the two-year stink of Graeme Hall might soon disappear, an unpleasant odour of Government’s treatment of citizens harmed by malfunctioning public services might persist, for how long we may not yet know.