Barbados is a lot cleaner now than it was four years ago, as citizens make a greater effort to maintain the country’s beauty.
This was pointed out by Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, who also told reporters during a recent press briefing, that there was still work to be done as individuals still threw garbage through the windows of private and public service vehicles.
Speaking at the Ministry’s City headquarters, he said: "It is heartbreaking when you drive behind a vehicle, where the occupants of that vehicle have gorged themselves with the food of choice and just, at the point where they have derived the highest level of culinary satisfaction, the next act is to dispose of their garbage in a manner that creates discomfort for innocent casualties of such action. It is amazing. I drive behind vehicles and see it happen all the time. It is not happening at the level that it used to in my view, but it is still happening."
Dr. Lowe pointed out that Barbados needed to adopt the approach where the operators and owners of public transportation were charged if their passengers were caught throwing items through windows.
ownership and the driver says ???I don’t know’. If you are not sending a message to your passengers that it is illegal to litter, then you should be held accountable also for the littering practices of persons using your public transportation – the driver and or owner. It happens frequently, from ZR vans, minibuses, private cars and other vehicles and occasionally from the Transport Board buses," the Minister lamented
He emphasised that the message from the State against littering should be reinforced by those who were operating those vehicles.
Dr. Lowe stressed that the level of cleanliness which characterised Barbados was a reflection of the value systems of the people, and littering was a reflection of a value-based behaviour. "It speaks more about us as individuals than it does about the actual state of the country… I believe we have made some headway into cleaning up the country," he reiterated.
However, Dr. Lowe commended the work of the Drainage Division, noting that it did a "tremendous job" in responding to a number of issues that were caused by littering, such as clogged drains.
"In Fontabelle, St. Michael, that was a noted flood prone area. When our people got into those drains and began to clean them, the things they found in those drains – pieces of homes, toilets, bowls, [and] basins. This ongoing effort has been able to allow us to aggressively and successfully deal with some of the flooding issues in the City precinct as well as outside the City," he said.
He added that the Sanitation Service Authority made provisions for people to dispose of their garbage, but were still forced to clean the highway because people were littering as they moved around.
To counter the existing problems, the Minister suggested that all institutions, including the church and schools, should play a major role in publicising the message. "The media also has a critical role to play in getting the message out from time to time. I believe that there should be media campaigns on issues like these to get the message out consistently because the media already has a national audience, and they have the vehicles, electronic and otherwise, to get the information out," he proposed.
Dr. Lowe stated: "Our message is that if you value who you are, and if you value your country, it becomes more difficult to participate in littering."