Press conference re: COVID update and national cleanup efforts, hosted by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley at the Grantley Adams International Airport – April 15, 2021. (PMO)

Over the next few days, all construction companies will be involved in a major clean-up exercise, as Government presses ahead to remove the build-up of ash from the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).

In making the announcement during a press conference at GAIA this afternoon, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the Ministry of Agriculture had been mobilised to wet and plough the fields on the landside of the airport. 

She noted that officials from the Ministry of Transport, Works and Water Resources and the Barbados Water Authority had agreed that treated non-potable water from the Bridgetown Sewage Treatment Plant and limited amounts of seawater would be used as part of the multiple approaches to keep the dust levels down.

The Prime Minister informed the nation that the airport must open up as a matter of urgency as the island had been cut off from air transport for the last six days.

This situation, she stated, could not continue. She said based on a conversation with Director of the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre, Professor Richard Robertson, who disclosed that this morning’s eruption at the La Soufriere volcano was not “of sufficient strength” to send the ash in an easterly direction to affect Barbados, Government could proceed to “ramp…full steam ahead with the clean-up operations”.

Adding that the conditions at GAIA was “far worse on Monday” when she visited, Ms. Mottley said: “Over the course of the next day or two, or however long it takes, we will have all of the major construction companies in Barbados on site…all the major civil works construction companies on site. The airport is being divided up into quadrants, as well as to be able to deal with inside, as well as the canopies.

We recognise that in dealing with the airport, as I said over and over, you cannot just deal with the airport, you’ve got to create a zone around the airport because the wind is blowing the dust.  So, all from up at Gemswick coming down, you’re going to have dust coming in.”

She acknowledged that the airport runway was also “full of dust” and she thanked Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Lisa Cummins, for ensuring that Government had the best support available, as it relates to tackling the problem.

Ms. Mottley said she had cut the weekly Cabinet meeting short to do a site visit at the airport, and to take the necessary decisions to control the dust and to have the airport re-opened shortly.

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