The Ministry of Transport, Works and Water Resources (MTWW) and the National Conservation Commission were not involved in any illegal dumping at Bath, St. John, as indicated in a now viral social media video.
Minister of Environment and National Beautification, Adrian Forde, said the unsightly debris highlighted by members of the Rastafarian community had been discarded there by illegal dumpers.
He was speaking to the media after a tour of the area this afternoon, along with Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources, Ian Gooding-Edghill; Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, and Minister in the Ministry of Transport Works and Water Resources and Parliamentary Representative for the area, Charles Griffith.
Giving some clarity to the situation, Minister Forde explained that the area was used by the MTWWR to store bulk green waste such as rocks, sand and tree branches, which could be “regurgitated in an organic way into the soil”.
He pointed out that other debris found in the area, including old household appliances, was not placed there by any government agency or ministry.
“I want to say to Barbados that the illegal dumping that happened at this site is not under the direction of any Ministry, it does not involve any Ministry official, my Ministry or the MTW. We will not be tolerating it; it is a zero tolerance approach,” he emphasised.
He continued: “When I saw the video, I was appalled for more than one reason. First of all, the entire Barbados would’ve heard me comment vehemently against illegal dumping. I said that this would be stamped out under my watch. I have made a plea to every single person who has an interest in dumping illegally or who is involved in illicit activities, as it relates to dumping, to cease and desist or not they will face the law courts. I have said it, repeatedly. I am saying today that I will maintain that position. I give you the assurance that the dumping of garbage, which you see north of where we stand, that area was dumped by an agency other than a government agency.”
He promised members of the Rastafarian community, who have been given about 60 acres of rab land in the area by Government to use for agricultural purposes for growing figs, bananas and plantains, that the land would be cleared and cameras installed to surveil the area.
“We are not going to allow illegal dumping…to destroy what is a natural oasis out here. We have a stream with fish – koi, tilapia, cray fish – which is not only providing food for the Rastafarian community, but it is serving to water the trees and the agricultural [land] which is part of circular Barbados. They (Rastafarians) are taking the water from the stream and they have found an ingenious way to provide food to help [reduce] the food import bill and provide food security,” the Environment Minister stated.
Minister Gooding-Edghill said a full investigation would be launched into the matter to ensure that those involved were held accountable. He also stated that with immediate effect, the MTWW would stop storing its bulk waste at the site.
“The Ministry will commence the clearing of this site today, and as I said, it is regrettable that debris, including appliances, was dumped in this location, which clearly would be causing much discomfort to the residents in this area, and particularly to the Rastafarian community engaged in agriculture,” he said.
Minister Weir explained that the entire area was earmarked for food production, and that the Ministry of Agriculture was working with Rastafarian communities across Barbados to not only empower and enfranchise them, but to give them an opportunity to contribute to the country’s food security.
“It is unfortunate that what is happening here is happening, but I don’t want to dwell on that. I am pleased to know that the Minister has taken the necessary steps to bring this to closure and this entire area will now be cleared and returned to its rightful uses. I want to thank Minister Ian Gooding-Edghill, Minister Charles Griffith and Minister Adrian Forde for coming here today and making sure we do what is right by the people of Barbados and what is right by the Rastafarian community,” he stated.