Barbados is once again facing shutdowns of non-essential businesses as the country contends with ash and smoke from the eruption of the La Soufriére Volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley says a period of national cleaning will start on Monday and continue for as long as the ashfall continues.
Workers from all non-essential departments of government and retail businesses have been asked to stay at home, as much of the country’s public transport network has been halted.
“There’s still a lot to be done, but I am saying to you that only government’s essential public services will open. We’ve gotten accustomed to this in the past. Those who can work remotely, please work remotely,” the PM advised during a national address on Sunday.
“Those of you, however, who know that you are involved in the cleanup, environmental assessment, in any part of the engineering or technical departments of your business or the government, then you will need to report for duty in order for us to be able to do these assessments and to clean up properly.
“The bottom line is that if you don’t need to go outside, do not go outside. If you are not going outside to clean your house, stay off of the road,” Mottley said.
At the time of yesterday’s conference, the Prime Minister revealed that she had discussed the plans with Private Sector heads and General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Toni Moore, but was yet to speak with the head of the Public Service or the National Union of Public Workers.
In the meantime, Mottley explained that with the ash from La Soufriére going nowhere soon, Barbadians ought to begin shoveling, as the volume and weight would only increase.
“We are not in a position to predict when this will end, but we know that we have to start the cleanup and as a consequence, tomorrow must be seen as the beginning of the national cleanup, which may go on for as long as is necessary. But I’ve laid the foundation for why we cannot leave it any further or wait for seismic and others to tell us that it is over before we do anything. It must start as long as visibility allows and as long as safety can be guaranteed as far as possible,” Mottley said.
“This is nothing to play with. So, what I would want for you to do almost immediately is where we can start the cleaning process around our houses, in our houses, but particularly around our houses, we do so. One of the things that was very clear, however, is that as you go to clear your houses or roofs is that it is extremely slippery and a lot of accidents happen when you are cleaning, so that we really need people to take precautions when seeking to clean at this stage,” she added.
The Prime Minister has also cautioned Barbadians against clogging the gutters and sewers with ash. Instead she is urging Barbadians to bag and store the ash until it can be collected by open-back trucks for disposal. (KS)