With two days to go before officials complete a temporary fix to the south coast sewage problem, tourism officials are calling for a long-term solution, complaining that the closure of the Worthing Beach has already resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in losses to hoteliers in the area.
Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams had indicated that officials were working towards a December 15 deadline to have a temporary fix to the ongoing problem, and that a temporary outfall pipe should be functioning by early next week.
After the fixes to the force main leading to the Needhams outfall failed about a month ago, officials have been working on the short-term solution from the Worthing Beach area, which resulted in a closure of the beach.
However, while welcoming the news of a temporary solution, Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Stephen Austin told the association’s fourth quarterly general meeting on Wednesday there was a need for a permanent fix.
“Since the closure of Worthing Beach, we have had some members suffering from loss of business of over $60,000 in one month alone. This ongoing situation is a tragedy for any business in the area and we will do all possible to continue to agitate for a permanent solution to this challenge,” he told members gathered at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
He said government has given the assurance that it was actively seeking funding for a permanent outflow that should be in place by September next year if all goes according to plan.
However, Austin insisted “We also need to look for a more permanent solution in terms of a tertiary treatment plant and our hope is that government will source the necessary funding in the not-too-distant future.
“We support the efforts of the minister and look forward to continued updates from the authorities once this temporary fix is completed,” he said, while thanking the Barbados Water Authority for its recent work in “keeping the sewage off the street”.
In March this year, when the problem was more severe, Chief Executive Officer of the BHTA Senator Rudy Grant had revealed then that some of the BHTA members had lost up to $200,000, as visitors fled hotels and other accommodation in the affected areas.
Without naming the properties, Grant had said a survey in December 2017 and again in February 2018, revealed a “higher level of cancellations” during that period.
Member of Parliament for Christ Church South Ralph Thorne has vowed to put pressure on the BWA to quickly rectify the sewage issue affecting the Worthing Beach which is in his constituency.
Officials have already indicated that immediately after the mitigating fixes were completed, rehabilitation of the swamp should take place. This would include flushing the swamp’s effluent into the sea.