A civilian group is calling on authorities to go a step further in the fight against indiscriminate burning by introducing stiff penalties for people who engage in the practice.
President of the social media-based group, Citizens Against Indiscriminate Dumping, Wayne Poonka Willock, was responding to the announcement by Chief Fire Officer Errol Maynard that he would be proposing to Minster of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson that legislation be passed requiring Barbadians to acquire permits to burn garbage around their homes.
Willock told Barbados TODAY that with the renewed vigour shown by the chief fire officer, he hoped the demands of his nearly 500-strong civilian group would finally be taken seriously.
“The previous government did very little about it and now I am seeing that the Chief Fire Officer has made a statement . . . about having people apply for permits to burn, which I know is a common feature across the world,” he said.
“That feature is accompanied by some stiff fines—US$25 000 and US$50 000—for people who burn stuff and put all of those carcinogens in the atmosphere for people living within a half mile or more from where the burning is taking place.”
Willock added that the Royal Barbados Police Force needed to be empowered with a clear mandate to stamp out the harmful practice.
“We need to develop a system where we can send a policeman to a venue to arrest someone for doing it because the legislation allows it,” he said.
“In 2019, when we are speaking about eco and green economy, we need to be able to support that by doing the right thing. This tradition of burning stuff is not good. Not all traditions are good, and it is time that we stop operating with that third world behaviour. We cannot be making people sicker, creating more asthma patients at a time when we are going through this sort of economic downturn. We need to have more healthy people around,” he added.
Willock said that while the previous Democratic Labour Party government had paid little attention to the problem, at least one key official in the current government had assured him the matter would be taken seriously under the Mia Mottley-led administration.
“I had a conversation with the Minister of Health who assured me that in the New year, when things have settled, he would be making some attempts for us to get together on this matter,” he said.
Willock has also urged Barbadians to join his group’s Facebook page and become more active in the fight against indiscriminate dumping.