As the National Conservation Commission (NCC) prepares to celebrate its "coming of age", in the next two months, management of the statutory corporation has underscored its contribution to national development.
Speaking to the news media recently, Acting General Manager, Michael Thompson, noted that the organisation’s record "was there for everyone to see."
"When you look at the development of Barbados, which is really led by the development of the tourism sector, and you look at the contribution of the NCC to Barbados’ development as a tourist destination, our impact over the last 40 years has been, in our view, significant.
"When you consider the things that we now come to expect in Barbados – namely washroom facilities, lifeguard services, pristine public parks and playparks across the island – all are services which we provide. In terms of our contribution to national development, I think the NCC has done remarkably well over the years," he opined.
Chairman of the NCC, Tyrone Lowe, echoed similar sentiments, describing the organisation’s contribution as "impactful". In addition to its role in raising awareness of the importance of beautifying the environment, he said the Commission’s ranger and lifeguard services, played a pivotal role in allowing locals and tourists alike to use the island’s beaches with some level of safety.
Mr. Lowe made it clear that the NCC’s involvement was not without some onerous challenges over the years, including those pertaining to human resources.
Noting that most NCC staff worked outdoors for long periods, the NCC chair said existing weather conditions often resulted in high incidence of sick leave, which had a negative impact on staffing.
?? In relation to ongoing calls for extended opening hours at playparks and public bathroom facilities, Mr. Lowe said while the Commission was amenable to this, it could not afford to pay the requisite over-time to staff to operate these facilities.
"The maintenance of our facilities is also a major challenge.?? Many persons waste water, and they waste the amenities at the various sites. So, if you keep them open they will abuse them, and if you don’t keep them open they will do their business all around our facilities – so the environmental challenges are many," he observed.
The NCC official also highlighted ongoing difficulties faced by rangers on the island’s beaches, particularly from persons who peddled their wares illegally, and those using illegal substances.
"But, we can do so much and no more. So, we are committed to doing what we can in the limited circumstances, and hopefully, Barbadians will be supportive and sympathetic, and help us where they can.
"Our rangers depend on the police for assistance. We are also hoping that when there are good swimmers on the beach that they would help our lifeguards when difficulties arise; because whenever someone encounters difficulties in the sea, or worse still drowns, it takes a toll on the NCC.
Several activities are being planned to mark the NCC’s 40th anniversary, which will be celebrated in May under the theme: "Stepping towards a Greener Barbados". These include an island-wide Community Environmental Walk, a church service, an awards ceremony, and a 20/20 cricket match between an NCC 11 and a Celebrity 11 team at the 3Ws Oval.