by Shawn Cumberbatch
Some residents down wind of the Mangrove Pond landfill in St. Thomas had a miserable time last night — for many of them an awful case of déjà vu.
Those living in Arch Hall seemingly got off easier than their neighbours in adjoining Bennetts, including a long standing 85 year old resident who though having “had enough”, said he does not intend to relocate from the place she has called home for decades.
The culprit which caused their discomfort was the latest tyre fire at the island’s sole landfill, a blaze which started last night and was still being battled after sunrise.
Barbados TODAY spoke with a number of the affected residents, some of whom were very vocal, though most were camera shy and declined to give their names.
What they all had in common was being fed up with various “episodes” at Mangrove Pond, including a persistent stench, and intermittent fires like the one last night.
An elderly Ernesta Piggott, who lives in Bennetts, said she was affected by the smoke and awful smell of burning tyres from this latest fire last night and this morning.
“I feel real bad. I hear a girl call me and tell me there was a fire at the dump, I looked outside but I couldn’t see anything, so I ring my daughter up the hill. All like now I don’t know what to do, I am still being affected by the smell,” she complained.
“I have been living out here for years and years, but I wouldn’t move. I can’t take this much longer, I am 85 years old.”
Another sufferer was neighbour Timothy Alleyne, who was on his way to work when we spoke to him.
“Everything that happens up there we normally get affected here, the stench, the smoke. This morning I had to sweep all of the black dust from the carpet, and was affected by all of the smoke. It’s a good thing that my little boy, who is an asthmatic isn’t down here now. He normally spends the weekend and he will come down this afternoon,” he said.
“Otherwise I can’t holla for murder because that is something that we are normally accustomed to all the time, so if you get a bad smell from up there you have to take it — I can’t do anything about it. I have been living out here from the time I born so this is my home town.”
Alleyne said residents like him had unhappily accepted that the landfill would be there “for a very long time”.
“We can’t get away from it, it seems there is nothing we can do, we can only complain about it here or there, but if they are not going to do anything about it what can we do? That is the general feeling among the residents. We were even discussing it at my house the other day,” he said.
“Sometimes on Sunday you are going to eat your Sunday dinner and you are getting that kind of awful smell.
Some Arch Hall residents, while not as badly impacted as Piggott and Alleyne, said they believed they would die and leave the dump in operation.
“It (fires) is an every year thing and you can’t do anything about it. Don’t care how you talk it is still going to be same thing all the time. If you come around next year again you are going to be seeing the same thing,” one male resident lamented.
“That isn’t leaving so we have got to accept what we are getting down in here. They don’t care anything about us down in here, that has been clear for years.
“I have been living down here almost 40 years and I know in another 40 years it is going to be still up there because they already dig more quarry to extend more dump. We don’t have a sea so they gave us a dump like if we are suppose to swim in it,” he quipped.
One of his neighbors said for a long time authorities had not shown they cared about residents, and people like her did not expect this to change anytime soon.
“No one else wants it (a landfill) in their district so we are left to suffer. You can keep a lot of noise but that will make no difference. Even when there is no fire, when the rain falls you can smell the stench,” she noted.