As Barbados continues to be blanketed with the ash from the ongoing eruptions of the La Soufriere Volcano in St. Vincent, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has announced that retail businesses here will not be opened to the public on Monday, April 12.
During a press conference earlier today, Ms. Mottley also stated that only essential public services in Government will open.
She told her audience: “Tomorrow, persons who are essential workers should go to work…. We have gotten accustomed to this in the past; those who can work remotely, please work remotely.
“Those of you, however, who know that you are necessarily involved in cleaning-up, in environmental assessment, in any part of the engineering or technical departments of your business, of the Government, then you will need to report for duty, in order for us to be able to do these assessments and to clean-up properly.”
The Prime Minister dubbed Monday as the start of the national clean-up and urged Barbadians to clear away the heavy ash which had settled on their homes and around their property, but do so carefully.
She encouraged communities to work together where possible and to assist elderly people who live alone and cannot undertake the strenuous work which would now need to be done.
“Tomorrow must be seen as the beginning of the national clean-up, which may go on for as long as is necessary…. We cannot leave it any further, or wait for seismic and others to tell us that it is over before we do anything. It (the clean-up) must start as long as visibility allows, and as long as safety can be guaranteed….
“Do not allow the ash to add up because with the rain, the weight of it then becomes a problem. We already saw photographs coming out of St. Vincent yesterday of house roofs that have already been affected there. We do not want that to happen here. But at the same time, I’ve already advised you how dangerous and how hazardous it can be to clean the roofs or even to be on ladders,” she pointed out.
Ms. Mottley disclosed that the search was on for heavy duty garbage bags to put the ash in, and advised persons not to discard it in gutters.
She said instructions were given earlier today to start the clean-up at the Grantley Adams International Airport. However, the mission had to be abandoned because of low visibility, she noted, adding that the clean-up should resume tomorrow.
The Prime Minister advised citizens to stay indoors and off the road, while urging motorists to drive slowly. “We have already had to suspend some of the Transport Board’s movements, because as you know, it is hazardous on the road. And therefore, we do not want to compound the situations that we have with any type of other unfortunate incidents….
“For the transport sector, there will also be a reduced schedule…. However, if there is a window of opportunity where we can go back safely to the full schedule, we will do so,” she said.
Ms. Mottley urged Barbadians not to panic, but be guided by commonsense. She said it was unclear how long the plumes of ash from the volcano would affect Barbados, and encouraged persons to stay “glued” to the regular channels of communication.