Employers of businesses listed as essential services have been advised to make adequate provisions for their staff to return home in the event of a pending disaster.
Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, made this clear as he addressed the launch of the Barbados Fire Service’s Community Risk Reduction programme at the Bush Hall Resource Centre, recently.
He told those present that Cabinet had approved a revised Policy Framework and Standard Operating Procedures for the Systematic Shutdown and Reactivation of Barbados in the event of an impending disaster to guide the process.
That policy identifies essential services in the public sector as the Department of Emergency Management, the Meteorological Department, the Barbados Fire Service, the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Barbados Defence Force, the Ministry of Health and Wellness and associated medical facilities, transportation network and agencies involved in telecommunications, electricity, water and natural gas, and other services.
In the private sector, the essential services are listed as utility companies; supermarkets; mini-marts; shops; pharmacies; general stores, including hardware stores and lumberyards; companies that provide public transportation and telecommunication providers.
But, Minister Hinkson has warned that this was not a case of private sector agencies making as much profit as they could under the circumstances.
“People matter, and their safety and welfare has to be of paramount importance and must override the profiteering of the business at which they are employed,” he emphasized.
Making reference to cases where employees had to stay in shelters after being unable to get home from work, Mr. Hinkson stressed that consideration had to be given to their domestic situations, especially those who resided in remote, flood prone and vulnerable areas.
He urged businesses to not only have a disaster management and business continuity plan in place, but also “concrete security and operational procedures” which are known to key staff.
Mr. Hinkson also warned individuals not to be caught up in last minute shopping when a system threatens the island. “Get your supplies now…the stores will have to close at some time,” he stated.