Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has challenged Barbadians to “pick down the country and put it back up” in time for We Gatherin’ 2020 next year. She said that while Government will play its part, including contracting some 350 people to clean the highways and subsidiary roads, she expected every Barbadian to be involved in cleaning “every square mile”.
“We all know what it’s like at home this time of year. What your parents and grandparents will tell you – that in spite of all the merriment and the joy that you want to partake in, you have to ‘tek’ down and put back up the house before Christmas.
“Regrettably, we are not going to be able to get it all done between now and Christmas Day, but we have our friends and our family coming home for We Gatherin’, and therefore we need between now and January 31 to literally have a massive all-out clean-up of this country,” Ms. Mottley stated.
Noting that she had raised the issue “politely on Independence Day”, she said that it was now clear that polite talk did not work and that she needed to be more direct.
“This is not the Barbados that we know. We grow up in Barbados where people used to keep in front, behind and to the sides of their homes clean…. You cannot develop an acceptance or a tolerance for people dropping pet bottles, glass bottles, sweetie paper, corn curl paper, fast food boxes, pizza boxes all over the road.”
She warned that these things became receptacles for mosquito larvae and contributed to growth in the rodent population, leading to public health issues. Flooding and drainage issues also arose when the drains were blocked, she added.
The $2 million programme involving the contracted workers started two weeks ago, with 65 persons whose sole responsibility is to keep the major highways and culverts clean.
While 350 workers will be involved in the clean-up, those numbers will be reduced by one half or one third by the end of January, Ms. Mottley said, with the remaining number retained to carry out maintenance on an ongoing basis.
The Prime Minister warned that there will be consequences for land and home owners who refused to clean up their properties.
“The law already exists, but it needs to be enforced and I have already spoken to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works who has advised that come the new year, after initial sensitization, they will be telling owners that you will be fined under the law.”
But she revealed that Government did not intend for offenders to record criminal convictions for every regulatory breach, so a series of civil penalties would be introduced, which would involve persons being ticketed, starting in April.
“You cannot develop an acceptance or a tolerance for people dropping pet bottles, glass bottles, sweetie paper, corn curl paper, fast food boxes, pizza boxes all over the road.”Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley
“Government, having given you a ‘bly’ for the next three and a half months, you will have enough time to take up your responsibility, and the ticket price will be just a little more than it would cost for you to pay a man to come and clean by you.”
She said this action was necessary because a public health crisis in the middle of the tourism season or among the population at any time would have consequences for the economy and productivity in the country.
Revealing some of the ways in which Government would contribute to the campaign, she announced that additional street sweepers would be purchased to ensure that the sides of the roads were swept every few days to prohibit the growth of weeds.
Additionally, early in the new year, the Sanitation Service Authority should have a complement of 29 new trucks, with several arriving this month and early next month.
The Prime Minister concluded: “I need Bajans to help us to have a clean Christmas, a clean 2020 and a clean Barbados period. And the only way we are going to do it is by making it a habit; not by relying only on the SSA or relying on MTW, but it is all of us lifting because many hands make light work.”