Press conference re: COVID-19 and national cleanup updates – April 16, 2021. (PMO)

The Grantley Adams International Airport resumed operations at 6:00 p.m. today, Friday, April 16, while the Port of Bridgetown is expected to restart on Monday, April 19.

Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, said these were priority areas for Government as it sought to clean its major installations, following the ash fall from the April 9 eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Speaking during a press conference to give an update on the clean-up campaign, the Minister described the airport as one of Government’s most “critical installations”.

“Having our airports and seaports closed effectively cuts Barbados off from the rest of the world. We cannot receive any supplies or anything; we can’t get vaccines in; we can’t get tests in; we can’t get basic supplies in with the airport and the seaport closed.

“Even our customary sending off of our samples to CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) in order to test the samples outside of Barbados for certain variants [of COVID-19], we have been unable to do because the RSS’ (Regional Security System) plane has been grounded with the closure of the airport and the closure of our airspace….  It is critical for us as a country to have our airspace, open. If there is a major emergency and somebody had to be airlifted, we can’t get them out with the airport closed,” he explained.

He added that unlike a highway, an airport and its runway had to meet certain standards in order for planes to land and take off.

Cleanup work has started at the Grantley Adams International Airport. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

As a result, he said, a number of major contractors were tasked with finding an effective solution to ridding the airport car park and runway of the hardened ash fall in a safe and efficient manner.

Responding to concerns about trucks racing up and down the runway, the Minister explained that was part of the strategy used by the contractors to break up hard areas of compacted dust, so that it could be removed.

Meanwhile, he noted that work in the Port Administration Office continued without interruption.

Mr. Abrahams said Shed Four and Shed Two would resume operations fully on Monday, April 19, as the Port of Bridgetown continued to service vessels offloading cargo.

He explained that the delivery of containers was paused today to facilitate the servicing of air conditioning systems on cargo handling equipment and to clean up the roadways and cargo stacking areas.

The Minister further noted that to minimise complaints, Barbados Port Inc. used private contractors to sweep, wet and shove the ash after the sweeper passed through the roads. 

He added that the air conditioning units across the Port would be serviced during the weekend, ahead of opening workspaces.

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