While law enforcement officials were tracking down two illegal dumpers on Wednesday evening, some Government ministers were issuing a warning to residents to play a greater role in ensuring their surroundings are clean and safe as they prepare the country for the possibility of a severe weather system.
Speaking with reporters yesterday to introduce the newly-installed traffic lights at the Westmoreland junction on Highway 2A, Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance Peter Phillips called on Barbados to stop their illegal dumping.
He argued that while Government was doing all it could to help prepare the country to adequately deal with a severe weather system, it was also up to residents to play their part.
“We want you to help us by not dumping your old beds, stoves and all sorts of garbage in waterways or in the streets. When the rain comes it picks up all those containers and bottles and everything and carries it away and that as a result, can block up drains and culverts and cause flooding in various communities,” said Phillips.
“My simple appeal to Barbadians is to help us in this cause as we are in the hurricane season. Stop the illegal dumping – in the gullies and waterways – this will go a long way in mitigating against flooding and such alike,” he said.
Yesterday, authorities tracked down and questioned two men caught on a viral video in the act of illegal dumping.
The men have expressed remorse over their actions and have agreed to carry out a round of beach clean-ups to make amends.
Chairman of the Emergency Management Advisory Council (EMAC) Edmund Hinkson also urged Barbadians to stop littering and start paying more attention to the cleaning up of their surroundings.
He gave the assurance that Government was putting relevant systems in place in the event of a major hurricane this season.
Officials have estimated a very active hurricane season, which began six weeks ago and is to officially come to an end November.
“The reality is that we are very far from the height of the season and residents must remain vigilant. Nothing beats preparation,” said Hinkson, who is also Minister of Home Affairs.
He said the EMAC has had about five sessions in the past six weeks preparing the different aspects of Government for the hurricane season.
He said planning included making sure there was adequate food supply on island and determining ways to get food to people should some communities be cut off as a result of a weather system.
“Of course we have renewed memoranda of understanding with food suppliers to ensure that. We met on Monday with the housing ministry and we are putting in place stronger arrangements for supply of building materials in the event that we need to get houses repaired for people,” said Hinkson.
The Ministry of Education, he said, was also ensuring adequate shelters were available.
“Clearly that is a possible challenge with COVID-19 and the issue of social distancing, but we have worked out a system for that in terms of not having to decrease the number of people in hurricane shelters, but also looking at getting more hurricane shelters available,” he said.
However, Hinkson cautioned that residents also had a major role to play in ensuring that they were ready.
“You have to make sure that your surroundings are free from debris, that the wells and drains are cleared in your neighbourhood and you don’t have any potential flying object on or around your property,” he said.
Urging residents to join forces and clean up their communities, Hinkson also encouraged them to get their properties insured.
Meanwhile, Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid said his ministry was also taking a multi-pronged approach, adding that several projects were ongoing to help mitigate flooding. He reported that some 80 per cent of waterways were now cleaned while the others will be done.
“We also have another programme looking at doing the wells. We issued contracts for quite a few wells to be done. In addition to that, we are also looking at [flood] mitigation,” he said.
“What we have also asked for as well is for a lot of the plantation owners to clear their wells and keep them functional. There are over 3,000 wells on plantations and those wells can take water before it moves from the highland unto the lower and coastal areas. So if you can catch the water it stops and reduces flooding in the lower areas and it helps us to recharge the aquifers faster,” said Duguid.
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