A month after the La Soufriere volcanic eruption in St. Vincent dumped tons of ash over Barbados, Transport Minister Dr William Duguid has praised the clean-up effort, describing it as “a mammoth task, but we managed it”.
Speaking over the weekend in an interview with the Public Administration Department Dr Duguid said: “It was a multifaceted effort given that we had to move ash from roadways, the roofs of buildings, car parks and drains. We were able to take on about 1,500 people to assist us.
“For example, there are 1,600 kilometres of roads in Barbados so we had to prioritise them in terms of utilisation.
“We started with the numbered and lettered roads, for example, Highways 1 and 7, then we went onto intermediate and minor roads, and we are still working on some of those.
“However, we had some challenges with procuring the tools we needed to get the job done. For example, how many places have 600 brooms, 900 shovels, 900 pan carts, and 12,000 feed bags?
“It was difficult but in the end, we managed to secure everything we needed and ensured we put systems in place to pay all of the workers involved.”
The minister commended Barbadians for using their own initiative in seeking to clean up the ash in their communities themselves. But he expressed concern about the volcanic residue getting into the drainage system.
Dr Duguid said: “The drains are a major concern for us now because if that material is allowed to gather for too long it will create problems with flooding which we can ill afford, so that is still something we are working on.”
Turning his attention to the National Housing Corporation’s efforts to improve electrical wiring and secure wells in its housing areas, he said: “So far we have completed electrical work in Haynesville, Fernihurst and Deacons Farm, and we have just put out a tender to ask for more electricians.
“In terms of the wells, we have 900 wells overall and so far we have completed 30 per cent of them, and we have put temporary covers on the ones we have not managed to start work on as yet.” (DH)