What picture for us and our visitors?
The Government’s boast is that 15,000 cruise ship passengers will descend upon Bridgetown on Independence Day, a brandished sign of greater things to come for Barbados’ winter tourist season 2015-2016. And, according to Martin Ince, chief executive officer of Foster & Ince Cruises, you can believe there will be very few days from November 30 to April-end that a cruise ship won’t be in the Bridgetown Port.
But Independence Day promises to be the most bounteous of them all, with five of these ships docking here at one time –– and high-end luxury cruisers they be majorly this season! It’s a propitious picture that our Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy helps paint.
Naturally, we welcome the good news. It is an impressive “gift” to our nation on the occasion of our 48th anniversary celebration of Independence.
In addition, advises Mr Sealy, another 100,000 cruise passengers could be looked forward to in 2015 –– over the 700,000 projected to visit come the end of 2014. But will our landscape be nearly as breathtaking to these intransit upper-end visitors when they actually set foot on our shores? Will, or could, our Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe have cleaned up his act by November 30 –– our day of formal expression of national Pride And Industry?
Or shall our tourism guests be subjected to the ubiquitous filth and squalidness which Dr Lowe’s ministry appears to be quite comfortable with for the greater part, and which our people are being encouraged, directly or indirectly, to cultivate and coddle?
To be blunt, in recent years it has not been unknown of litter being strewn across our beaches, parks and other spots of our landscape, or of industrial and domestic garbage being dumped anywhere and everywhere, or of Government and privately owned open lots being overrun by weed and bush. It just was not at the volume and level of degeneracy being errantly or ignorantly sustained today before our very eyes and noses by the powers that be.
And a minister, for so long subsumed by his own silence as public clamour went up to high heavens about the burgeoning uncollected garbage dotting the villages and the avenues of the heights and terraces, and its attendant uncleanliness and defilement, now has the gumption to seek pinning blame on residents themselves for the non-collection of refuse we see piling up
about the place.
People put out things that the trucks cannot pick up, like broken book cases, chest of drawers and the like, this leader suggests on national television. It would be a relevant point if that was all being left outside people’s homes.
Sadly, what is left to linger and deteriorate is the ordinary domestic waste this Government –– and Dr Lowe’s ministry in particular –– has a social contract to dispose of in timely fashion and with consistency.
The Minister of this Spoilt Environment, rather than being apologetic for the dirty state of affairs and giving some purposeful commitment to easing our frustration with the garbage collection problem, prefers to demonstrate how unyielding and bullheaded he can be. Now that Dr Lowe has found his voice, he can sound of to party adherents at a Sunday Christ Church East branch meeting that he will neither retreat nor surrender before those “threatening” to strike in his ministry.
Clearly, all is far from well in the Ministry of the Environment, and at the Sanitation Services Authority in particular (within and without), and the precariously unhealthy state that has developed demands from those in charge true understanding, compromise and fair and just resolution as a matter
The SSA surely needs some reorganizing –– not necessarily a “shake-up”, the latter perhaps being more appropriate in Cabinet –– and it even more certainly needs more trucks and equipment, which are inarguably a top national priority. Dr Lowe says reform of the SSA’s fleet and route management is required. Well, yes. This has been said before –– well before we got ourselves into this environmental mess.
Where was the goodly doctor?
“I am not going to surrender my leadership for any purposes at all,” Dr Lowe has sworn. We wonder if he and the Prime Minister are at one on this.
The confrontation which the Minister of the Environment seems so eagerly to be anticipating will redound to little or no good. More sober heads are pressingly required to rescue us from the pervasive foulness and sleaze we are being made to endure just outside our doors and along the streets we cross daily.
For Independence we –– Government and people –– need seriously to make the effort to get back to that old stage of island cleanliness –– which was so near to godliness. When the high-end visitors come in their multitudes, they must be moved to gasp: “Indeed, beautiful and unspoilt!”
It ought to be a Barbados beyond mere “imagination”.