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)

Government has started to clean up the country, and it is being managed across sectors, with all citizens expected to play their part.

This was stated today by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, during a press conference at the Grantley Adams International Airport to give an update on this country’s COVID-19 situation and clean-up campaign, following the ash fall from the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Prime Minister, who noted the airport’s vast expanse of land made it difficult to clean because “it is just too open and too wide”, praised the Ministry of Transport, Works and Water Resources for efforts at that facility, and noted its officers had been working day and night.

She also acknowledged that all government buildings would be taken care of under the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Maintenance, while schools and health institutions, through their respective ministries, had been contracted out because of the complexity associated with them, and in the case of schools, the volume of work expected to be carried out.

While pointing out that government buildings would be cleaned over the course of next week and into two weeks, Ms. Mottley said Government recognised the need for deep cleaning of these facilities.

She noted that housing estates, where many persons lived, would be taken care of by the Housing Ministry, as Government still had responsibility for making sure these estates were made clean “as quickly as possible”.  

While stating that the Ministry had been given authority to “bring on a few extra people in order to help in that exercise”, the Prime Minister later pointed out that though temporary, these workers, given the uncertainty of the volcanic eruptions, may be employed for some time. 

With respect to the clean-up of roads and highways, Ms. Mottley emphasised it was not just about the highways, but all of the secondary roads which had been affected. 

Explaining that Government had to ensure that all 1,600 kilometres of roads in Barbados are properly clean, she stressed: “On Sunday (April 11), you heard me talk about the drains and sewers, and that the worst thing that could happen to us would be for us to have ash solidify, cake up like cement, and go into the drains and sewers, because we would pay the price.

“Not now, [but] we would pay the price in August and October and November, when flooding comes as a result of heavy rain falls. We also have, therefore, to make sure that all secondary roads in Barbados are properly cleaned. And that’s why I said to those householders and residents who can clean around your house, help us to help you.”

The Prime Minister further divulged that Government hoped to employ about 1,500 persons to assist with the cleaning of the country, something that would fulfil a desire she had publicly wished for and spoken about – the need for a clean Barbados.  

Pointing out that it was less than six weeks from the start of the hurricane season, she maintained it was necessary to not only clear the drains and sewers of the ash, but all other things that could block them and lead to flooding and damage to property, and possibly loss of life.

Ms. Mottley also urged all Barbadians to play their part.  “I need every household and every business to play their part. Ask not what the country is going to do for you alone, but tell us how you are going to help the country in this national effort,” she said.

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