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Cowitch mess

Family fed up with scourge

A St James family have become prisoners in their own home as a result of a cowitch.

On a recent visit to Links Road in Lower Carlton, Dale Straughn told Barbados TODAY her family was sick, tired and totally irritated by the ongoing scourge. She said for months she had been trying to get some assistance in dealing with it but while this remained unsuccessful, her children, the youngest of which was only two months old, continued to suffer as a result.

Dale Straughn holding her baby girl. Inset, the cowitch that has been a nuisance to her family.

Dale Straughn holding her baby girl. Inset, the cowitch that has been a nuisance to her family.

The cowitch veins, which are the centre of their discomfort, are located directly behind their home. The young mother said that whenever the wind blew too strongly the spurs were swept in their direction.

“ . . . And it would got we itching up all the time. The baby, she always scratching and crying [and] my other daughter does be complaining a lot. My son had to throw away a couple of he shirts and I say this can’t continue because I can’t afford to be throwing way clothes so all the
time. I does got to keep the window shut, the door shut; it only open because wunna here now. I does got to live in here like a prison[er]. Everybody complaining, it bothering everybody,” Straughn lamented.

“The police went down here and saw it. The inspector come and he . . . tell me to hang the baby clothes in the house but I can’t hang everybody clothes in the house. I want them try and do something with the cowitch.”

On inspection of the area, Barbados TODAY encountered cowitch on the ground “dried up”. However, there were large amounts of matured veins and those still growing amongst the overgrown trees.

This unfinished structure is overrun by cowitch veins and is a breeding ground for mosquitos, says Dale Straughn.

This unfinished structure is overrun by cowitch veins and is a breeding ground for mosquitos, says Dale Straughn.

Straughn said the problem has persisted for several years but after her baby was born in December 2013, she was determined to have it rectified. So along with one of her sons they went to the alleged owner of the land. She said she told the owner because of the baby it was vital the problem be corrected promptly.

“I told her the cowitch is a problem and that it itching up my children and that I had a new baby and she can’t do nothing but scratch and I want she to do something about the cowitch. She tell me she gine go and check [but] she ain’t come around for more than two months now and she ain’t do nothing at all around the place,” the frustrated woman continued.

Adding to the family’s discomfort was stagnated water from an unfinished structure on the same property. This structure, she said, was overrun by cowitch veins and was a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“I ain’t understand why somebody can’t do something. This has been going on a good while. When [the land owner] said she would go and check and I ain’t see nothing getting done I decide I gine call the health inspectors from Maurice Byer Polyclinic; this is before December out. The health inspector come in late January and the last time I talk to them was in February.

“When the nurse come after the baby she also laid a complaint, my cousin come and she laid a complaint. We calling more than once for somebody to do something but nothing. We can’t tek this no longer,” Straughn stressed.

Continued efforts to reach a health inspector from the Maurice Byer polyclinic proved unsuccessful but sub–officer from the St James Fire Service, Clarence Hinds, told Barbados TODAY that the problem could be resolved by contained burning by the fire service.

While he said he was unaware of such a report on this matter, Hinds urged Straughn or the land owner to contact the Ministry of Health or the chief fire officer in writing. He explained what normally occurred was that an official from the Ministry of Health would then go to the property to determine if the cowitch was mature and a public nuisance. If it was found to be, the BFS would destroy it free of cost.

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