Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds wants action on the Mangrove Landfill from his colleague Trevor Prescod, the Minister of Environment and National Beautification.
He described the St. Thomas dump as “a matter of specific and palpable pain”.
During debate on the 2020/2021 Estimates, Symmonds described the management of the landfill as a glaring issue for the residents of Arch Hall and Bennetts, not only because of fires but because of the stench emanating from the landfill.
“I think people in Barbados do not understand what it’s like to be at the centerpiece of the receiving end of the nation’s waste, so that you wake up every morning to the scent of the nation’s refuse, you go to bed every night with it wrinkling in your nostrils,” a passionate Symmonds said.
“I want to speak the language of the people who are enduring this matter. It is an interesting and hybrid challenge because right next to Arch Hall/Bennetts is a place called Sandy Lane, and obviously I wear the cap for the time being of Minister of Tourism.
“What is missing in all of this is that there seemingly is not an understanding that there is a sense of urgency that attends to those folks who have to dwell in the immediate area,” Symmonds added.
The Tourism Minister and MP for St James Central said while the communications team with responsibility for the landfill does a great job of relaying the challenges, what is not communicated to residents is “how long”.
“How much longer are they reasonably expected to wait before the SSA can bring a solution to this? Speak to the folks who matter most in this matter. Speak to the folks who go to bed every night in the hope that they will not once again have to spend thousands of dollars that they don’t have to treat the family’s complaints about asthma, to treat the health complaints that have arisen,” Symmonds said.
“I must say, it is not an overstatement, it is not being melodramatic, there are folks in Arch Hall and Bennetts who blood run from [their] nose during the course of the last fire. These are things that people are living with. What is the state doing to intervene in a timely manner to bring this long standing problem to an end?”
Symmonds, while acknowledging that the problem did not begin with this Minister or his ministry, said Prescod needs to tell the people when they can see a resolution.
“How long Mr Minister is it reasonably expected that it will take for there to be a final solution to this problem?” Symmonds questioned.
But Prescod seemed to suggest the matter was out of his hands.
Responding to Symmonds, Prescod said: “Minister, I don’t have absolute power in the Government to which I belong. If I had absolute power I would respond to your concerns immediately.”
“We both belong to a body of persons that the people elected to represent their interest and we have a number of forums where we advance the policies of the Government,” Prescod continued.
“We also prioritise what we believe we ought to do and as far as I know, with the exception of the Prime Minister, all of us we have equal authority to express our concerns at the highest levels of Cabinet and … Parliament, as we do today, and what I will do, along with you as a colleague is join collectively and ask the other brethren and sisters in the Cabinet to try to express and share a common position with you on when we believe that this Government ought to make it a priority to find resolve to the problems that you highlighted.
“It falls right back on the Government to which you belong,” Prescod added.