Civil penalties may be slapped on households that fail to keep their surroundings clean, the Prime Minister has warned during a post-Dorian news briefing early this morning.
She said while the hard work of various Government agencies, business and ordinary citizens made a significant difference to the state of readiness in light of the potential devastation, she saw cleanliness as a major issue that needs fixing.
“The bigger issue is how Barbadians respond to keeping around their environment clean.
“There really is too much littering. And you only needed to go and see what was blocked up in terms of canals…you have to stop… and mercifully, the reduction in plastics helped in that effort, but there is still residual there.
“Similarly, persons have to keep around their houses from bush and other large pieces of bulky equipment.”
She disclosed that the problem regarding the bulky waste has forced Government to fast-track the reopening of the Bagatelle, St Thomas landfill.
Mottley said: “It will be appropriately dealt with by the proper agencies this week so that the bulky waste can continue to go there. And we are looking at a new site in St Philip.
“And I want therefore to urge Barbadians that as we continue to move forward, not just in this season, but for our ourselves and for the gathering (Vision 2020)… let us make it our business priority number one to clean up this country and to clean it up in the small things and the large things.
“And the Government is committed to it and we are going to work with you,” she added.
The Prime Minister revealed that the Attorney General has already started working towards introducing measures that would make householders liable for ensuring that not only their properties but also the road reserve in front of them are kept clean.
She said: “The AG is already doing the research with respect to civil penalties for people who would not take responsibilities for in front of them.
“All of us know, our parents, our grandparents…we grew up with them doing what? Cleaning in front, not just our property, but they used to clean the road and the gutter in front our house.
“And we need to return to those days….we need to get the plantations cleaning the wells as well because it would assist in drainage.
Flanked by her touring team which included Acting Attorney General Wilfred Abrams, Home Affairs Minister Edmund Hinkson and Director of the Department of Emergency Management Kerry Hinds, she also said that planning for future natural hazards, particularly storms and hurricanes, must be improved.
She suggested that Dorian could be considered a “dry run” seeing that it came early and there are still three more months to go before the end of the hurricane season.
But the Prime Minister declared she is not happy that Barbados continues to rely on the National Hurricane Centre in Miami for its information to track the progress of storms and wants this to change.
The NHC, part of the US Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has long been the designated focal point for receiving weather data and providing forecasts and analysis for the Caribbean region by the World Meteorological Organisation.
Mottley declared: “In a very real sense, we need to improve how we plan for these events from the point of view that we wait now for the National Hurricane Centre to be able to send a Hurricane Hunter (aircraft) into the system.
“The ones that went into this system, went for research purposes of their own, and therefore the data that we expected or hope rather to come, was not obviously there.
“We are satisfied that we have reached the point where we have to take responsibility for our own affairs.”
She suggested that events of this nature was the new normal in a world of climate change and something that Barbados is going to have to get accustomed to because the intensity of storms and the regularity of storms and hurricanes will significantly increase.
“We have to be able to get more accurate data. If you noticed, by the time the hurricane is coming close to the United States of America they can give you all kinds of data about every quadrant and what to expect and what not to expect etcetera.
“We are not a developed country in that sense, but we believe that working with our partner-countries in the region, especially in the eastern and southern Caribbean, that we are going to need to find ways to be able to commission for our own selves [by aeroplane].
“We don’t need to own an airplane to charter it to go and do the work.”
The Prime Minister said that the country’s whole approach to the accuracy and understanding of the intensity of severe weather systems must change.
She noted that accurate data was of particular importance to Barbados because it was the first landfall for the storm.
Mottley said: “I’d only therefore like to say to Barbadians, don’t believe you have wasted your money in buying goods and food items and all of those things because we are still a good 93, 94 days out from the end of the season. In fact the season ends when we say ‘God Bless Bim on Independence Day’.
“Until such time we have to be alert.
“And I asked persons therefore, if you didn’t get a chance to clean up around you, do so.
“If you acquired stuff, tin stuff, know that you are going to have to use it or bottled water or those kinds of things.”
She noted that the ability to mobilise various agencies allowed the country to resolve major drainage problems in the traditional flood-prone areas such as Speightstown and The Whim, St Peter; Lower Bay Street opposite London Bourne Towers; Brandons off the Mighty Grynner Highway, and the gullies.
She said she was exceedingly proud of people who have pulled “real weight” in the last 36 to 48 hours including civil servants, the security and protective services and the Transport Board.
But, said the premier, there was one thing she hoped Barbadians could have done better.
She told reporters: “I hoped more people would have gone for gasoline on Sunday rather than yesterday. It exacerbated the traffic problem,” as she urged citizens to help in improving this aspect next time.
Praise was also showered on the news media for their role in disseminating accurate information.
“You have stepped up to the plate with us on this journey,” the Prime Minister declared. She said that in an era of fake news, the media have a heavy responsibility to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of the news shared with the public.
“And as we go forward this is going to be even more important in this society. Give God thanks, Let us stay the course because we have another 94 days before we can call it quits for this hurricane season,” the Prime Minister said.