Every Barbadian has a role to play in eliminating the scourge of illegal dumping and the threat it poses to the economy.
Environmental Health Officer, Ryle Rock, maintains it will take a cumulative effort to bring ???the dire situation??? under control.
The Vector Control Unit of the Ministry of Health is making an all-out effort to identify illegal dumping sites around the island and to ensure that offenders clean up the garbage.
???What we have been seeing sends a very bad message about how we as Barbadians relate to our motto of Pride and Industry. Where is the pride in our country when we can so easily discard garbage in our cart roads, our gullies and any other secluded area we can find???? he queried.
Mr. Rock said that the primary offenders appeared to be people hired to dispose of the garbage. ???All around the island, we are finding tyres, construction rubble and household appliances. My take on it is that the company or householder hires someone to take away the refuse because they no longer want it on their properties. And the truckers and haulers, in order to make a quick dollar, will take a short cut and dispose of it in a vacant cane field or cart road.???
The Environmental Health Officer said it was important for the population to be educated about the impact of this illegal practice on the environment, the health of citizens and the economy, particularly the tourism industry.
???At these sites, you are going to find serious problems with rodents, flies and mosquitoes, and these can all impact the health of citizens. There is also the problem with run-off into our underground water supply and then there is the impact on the tourism industry,??? he stated.
Mr. Rock revealed that many of the illegal dump sites were discovered in the country parishes which tourists traversed on a daily basis on sight-seeing tours. ???These visitors are spending money to see our scenery and the natural beauty of the island and then they butt up on piles of refuse alongside the roadways, in gullies, in cart roads. It???s not the message we want to go abroad about our country.???
He warned offenders that his department did not intend to let up in its efforts to eliminate the practice and they would feel the full weight of the law when caught. He explained that in the most recent publicised cases, the culprits were first-time offenders and so instead of prosecuting them, a decision was taken to order them to clean up the dump site at their own expense.
But he made it clear that this was not the only option available to the department, since the law provided for offenders to be brought before the courts, with penalties of a fine of up to $5,000 or 12 months in prison, or both.
Mr. Rock also wanted more emphasis on teaching children about cleanliness, both in schools and at home. ???When I was at school, especially primary school, the teachers always made sure we had clean desks and that our surroundings were clean. Nowadays, you can go into schools and find litter in desks and even mice in desks. There???s a need for special attention to be paid to refuse disposal, not only at the primary level but also secondary and tertiary levels.???
He also wants to see more buy-in by communities in eradicating the problems of littering and illegal dumping. ???The public can help us a lot in identifying illegal dump sites by letting us know what is going on in their particular area. We want Barbados to be seen as a disciplined nation which takes pride in maintaining its environment. We want residents to remain vigilant and if they see anyone illegally dumping, call us at 417-2150.???