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#BTEditorial – Illegal dumping going unpunished is just not cricket

by Barbados Today
4 min read

Catches win matches, they say in cricket.

Dropping an opponent’s airborne ball bound for the boundary is dreadful.

And keeping your eyes on the ball is a must to stay at the crease.

So one can’t help but feel that the authorities spilt a dolly of a catch on an issue that must not be played with.

The viral video of two young men driving up to the beach at Needham’s Point and then throwing coconut shells mindlessly on the beach was jarring.

Rightfully, a concerned citizen picked up the proverbial ball, and bowled over the miscreants, boldly making it clear that their actions were out of place in this beautiful island of ours.

Well played to this brave woman who endured a torrent of abusive language in the interest of her country.

So next to the crease were the authorities. Their investigations led them to the offenders, Anthony Brathwaite, 29, and Ross Corbin, 23.

Unable to defend the indefensible, the offenders issued a public apology and today embarked on a five-day clean up of a two-kilometre stretch from Needhams’s Point to Pierhead as restitution for their misdeeds – in a bid to avoid prosecution.

But Barbadians objected loudly on social media, in call-in programmes and in any other forum they could express their views. One commenter made it clear: It’s simple. They must be prosecuted.

Another said: “ I am tired of the Sanitation Service Authority and the Police’s failure to charge these people. Always choosing the easy way out. How do you expect to curb the practice if you don’t send a strong message? And of all places, the beach. We are not serious.”

The backlash is understandable.

No one is expecting Brathwaite or Corbin to pay for their sins forever and due account must be taken of their remorse and act of community service.

Still, the authorities dropped the ball. They failed to send the sternest message yet to those who show blatant disregard for our environment.

Illegal dumping remains a vexing problem in Barbados and time and again the Sanitation Service Authority has appealed to Barbadians to dump the habit, particularly amid a spate of gross acts in and around the capital.

Environment Minister Prescod is on record as recently as May 8 warning that his ministry would be moving swiftly to put a mechanism in place to arrest the problem.

On that occasion, the discovery of an unsightly garbage heap dumped at President Kennedy Drive prompted Prescod to not only describe the act as criminal and ridiculous but he outlined future action to arrest the problem.

He declared: We have to put some mechanism in place, I won’t say what it is going to be but I am going to give you the assurance that whatever we put in place that on the next occasion we will be able to identify exactly who brought it here, what type of truck.”

Stern warnings like these can only be meaningful when words are backed up by deeds.

It was not lost the public that the law courts recently sent a strong message, in the form of a $500 fine, to a young man who had the audacity to throw a wrapper out of a moving vehicle.

Surely no less a crime was committed here.

If we are serious about this problem then the long arm of the law must be firm, fair and steady. The people are watching and taking note of inconsistencies.

We cannot allow anyone to think that they can break the law and just because they get caught in a viral video that they can simply say sorry and negotiate atonement.

Every reckless disposal of a wrapper, a fridge, car tyres, dead animals and coconut shells add up to create a haven for rodents and vermin.

So much more illegal dumping occurs daily beyond the gaze of a cellphone camera, threatening our precious water supply, public health, fisheries and our tourism-dependent economy. The law is there to protect our birthright and our children’s legacy.

To drop the ball now at this particularly critical juncture in the life of our nation is just not cricket.

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