A Government senator is calling for stiffer penalties against Barbadians who destroy or tamper with key pieces of infrastructure deemed critical to preserving the country’s heritage.
In his contribution in the Senate on the Planning and Development Bill, 2019, Government Senator Dr Rommel Springer indicated that while he was pleased to see more punitive measures than were previously imposed, some aspects of Barbados’ heritage were so important that the hefty fines under the new bill were insufficient.
Under part six, clause 54 of the new bill, those who demolish or alter specific monuments or buildings of national importance could be fined up to $500,000 if convicted.
“The increased fines will go a long way in preventing people from going in the dead of the night, under the cover of darkness and pushing down some of these properties.
“I feel it should be more, because when you destroy these buildings, there’s no going back. That part of your history is gone forever,” he said, noting that while buildings in places like Bridgetown, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site, were usually not affected, old structures, like the traditional slave huts in rural parishes needed greater protection.
“There are some among us that might argue that many of these relics of our past are now irrelevant and have no practical use in a modern Barbados. But I would tend to disagree, because these monuments and relics connect us to our past and they tell a story about the struggles, the aspirations and the dreams of our forefathers.
“Any piece of legislation that speaks to the preservation of our building heritage, I would gladly throw my support behind. But I think a little bit more needs to be done to ensure that all of these properties are found and listed.
Senator Springer also expressed concern that some “Barbadians who have a fascination with concrete” continue to threaten the country’s green spaces, particularly in rural parishes.
He complained that some indigenous plants have disappeared from the country’s landscape, which in the past were used for healing and in modern Barbados could be used as alternative medicine.
“Perhaps in this Barbados, there’s no need for plants for medicinal use. But persons are now looking for alternatives to western medicine. But the problem now is that you can’t find the plants anywhere, not even in the gullies.
“In Barbados we have taken to pushing away all of the greenery, all of the grass and bush and trees and There’s very little regard for trees now. I think before it’s too late, something needs to be done about that,” adding that such issues should be addressed by the Town and Country Planning Department.
“There is devastation taking place in terms of our natural environment, not only along the coastlines. In the rural areas in Barbados, a lot of our natural plants and vegetation are disappearing,” said Springer.