Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe (FP)
With over 7,000 pounds of garbage, ranging from food containers to large appliances, found lodged in Bridgetown drains during the last three weeks, and the annual?? budget for ??? Operation Clean City’ expected to surpass $500,000, Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe, has espoused a ???no-tolerance’ policy to?? littering.
"Government has to take an aggressive position against this or else we are going to end up spending millions of dollars in corrective care when we can perhaps?? spend a few hundred thousand ??[dollars] in preventative care. And that’s where the focus of my Ministry is," Minister Lowe said, during a recent press briefing.
Admittedly "delighted" at the progress made since the commencement of Operation Clean City, Dr. Lowe lauded staff from the Drainage Division and the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) for their work.
"I don’t think any of us anticipated that we would have such a torrid time with trying to get into those drains," he explained, while calling for a joint public/private sector partnership in this endeavour.
"Beautifying Barbados just cannot be a theme, it must be a practice," he underscored.
Charging that Government was spending in the region of Bds $5 million dollars per year "simply to keep drains clear," Dr. Lowe lamented that Barbadians were continuing to litter and dump indiscriminately, even within the island’s gully system, thus contributing to niggling flood problems, especially within the city.
"This is not going to be tolerated. If we have to put more laws on our statute books, we will do so!" he asserted, while noting that Government was also examining the relevant legislation to see where existing laws simply needed to be enforced.
He cited a situation where some householders, despite having their own drainage systems, were feeding their wastewater into the system and causing additional pressure. He said city merchants and vendors in areas like Baxters Road, were not as responsible as they should be in terms of the disposal of garbage and oil and other waste materials; and as a consequence, Minister Lowe called on all Barbadians to "work with Government to keep Barbados clean".
In recounting an incident where he witnessed a school child throwing a bottle out of the window of a Public Service Vehicle and almost striking a pedestrian, Dr. Lowe maintained that in such instances "someone should be charged", whether it is a parent or driver of the vehicle in cases involving minors.
In addition to putting in place a medical plan for SSA workers who have to face unsanitary conditions in clearing drains, Minister Lowe said they were also seeking to ensure that workers were equipped with suitable gear.
He also spoke about the possibility of having roving officers from the Drainage Division on the road on a daily basis in an attempt to reduce illicit dumping.