Coming out of our preparations for Tropical Storm Dorian, a clear directive came from Prime Minister Mia Mottley that hardly can anyone disagree – we need to clean up our act. Literally.
A brisk walk or a regular drive across this beautiful nation reveals the unsightly stains of garbage, litter, overgrown bush, clogged drains, dilapidated buildings, abandoned cars and other bulky waste.
Barbados is not nearly clean enough.
Of course, we can start with the Government itself and the never-ending dilemma at the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) – too little trucks—too little staff – and way too much garbage.
We all know the woes at the SSA did not start on May 24, 2018, and no one should reasonably expect that there is a magic wand to wave all problems away after a general election.
But we rightfully should expect and deserve improved services from the SSA with the introduction of the $1.50 per day Garbage and Sewage Contribution Levy, a portion of which we were assured goes directly to the SSA.
Still, beyond this business of righting the operations of the authority and buying more garbage trucks, we have to take better care of our environment.
As Prime Minister Mottley issued the all-clear on Monday she said: “The bigger issue is how Barbadians respond to keeping around their environment clean.
“There really is too much littering and you really only need to go and see what was blocked up in the canals, we have to stop… the reduction of plastics will help in that effort but there are still residuals there.
“Similarly, people have to keep around their houses free from bush.
“I want therefore to urge Barbadians as we continue to move forward not just in this season, but for our own selves and for the Gathering, 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.”
We hope that it is a call that will be heeded and not just end up… in the dump.
We cannot deny that our island is facing major challenges when it comes to keeping our environment clean.
What we need now is a multi-sectoral approach to restoring our natural beauty that has been tarnished by litter and poor waste disposal.
It should be all hands on deck to achieve the desired results.
Households, communities and corporate Barbados should each get involved and play their role to sustain a noble initiative.
The clean-up campaign should be led first and foremost by households and communities. It really is time to bury the ridiculous notion that we are only responsible for keeping our homes clean and bagging our garbage for the SSA to pick up. We have a responsibility to keep our public spaces like drains and streets clean as well by simply not dropping our waste indiscriminately.
Perhaps we need to reintroduce community competitions for the best-kept neighbourhoods
And for those who still need more convincing, we support the PM’s revelation that Attorney General Dale Marshall is reviewing civil penalties for people who will not take responsibility for cleaning up their environs. It’s about time.
Businesses, too, can help by reasonably reducing their packaging of items, and by sponsoring bins in public spaces and clean-up campaigns.
Perhaps we can consider the Rwandan example, where the final weekend of every month, groups across the country commit to specific projects to improve public spaces.
Whatever we decide, we need to get moving on a sustained national clean-up drive. Our nation deserves it.