It’s a disgrace!

BHTA head hits out at authorities’ handling of sewage problem

An impassioned chairperson of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Roseanne Myers is crying shame on local authorities for running away from “vexing issues” facing the country instead of simply “taking them by the horn” and strategically correcting them while effectively communicating with the public.

BHTA chairperson
Roseanne Myers

Delivering her final report for the year at the BHTA’s fourth quarterly meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today, Myers did not hold back her feelings on the way the south coast sewage problem was being handled.

Myers said while it was good to reflect on the achievements over the past 50 years “long talk will not get us through the next 50”.

She said there was need to address an aging and deteriorating infrastructure, including “our roads, the drainage system, the sewerage system, our water supply systems, and our airport” all of which seemed to be “nearing the brink of their maximum carrying capacity”.

“These are issues requiring strategic medium and long-term responses,” Myers advised.

She said the recent heavy rains had thrown the island into “a tail spin” and it was now trying to recover its balance and reputation, adding that businesses and households remained in the dark as to the protocols to follow in the event of similar occurrences.

“The truth is, what would be worse than what has happened over the past month is that we should have another downpour any time soon and suffer a repeat of the same challenges. We still have no clarity on what we collectively need to do before, during and after such events. We have shot ourselves in one foot with the infrastructural challenges, and truthfully, we have shot ourselves in the other foot with the somewhat slow response and communication of what was being done to address the fallout and to communicate with one voice about what a confluence of circumstances, not only water, has caused and brought upon us. Whatever the fixes identified we must implement a plan that we all clearly understand and can participate in.”

The tourism executive said the time had long gone for pointing fingers, and the relevant officials and agencies needed to accept full responsibility “and do something about it”.

“Things usually get worse unless you interject and intervene with some positive and strategic responses,” Myers warned.

“Our biggest challenge though seems to be one of communication as an underlying constant. Agencies are not communicating effectively to solve issues and we are not communicating with our various publics when problems occur, but tend to want to ignore and deny before addressing the concerns frontally,” she said.

“We had issues with drainage and backed up systems that affected the sewerage system, which was already stressed. Rather than acknowledge and take control of the messaging we allowed the general public to tell their stories on social media in an uncontrolled way with little leadership that was required to investigate, address, apologize, warn and manage the possible resolution. And we waited until the damage was done to our good name, then to try to respond. We have to do better and I surely believe that we can do better,” she added.

She also had strong words on the ongoing labour dispute between the Grantley Adams International Airport and the National Union of Public Workers, saying it seemed people were putting ego before country.

“There are issues that bother you to the point that you can’t sleep. You can’t sleep because a lot of what you are trying to do is being made to waste because of egos and because of all other things except a patriotic approach to problem solving. Country first, everything and everyone else after,” she said to applause.

The tourism executive added that the country could not afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing each year only to fail to give visitors the promised experience from the moment they land at the airport.

“So is it not a shame that we allow the issues already discussed and the unacceptable situation at the airport to replace the warm welcome we boast of, isn’t that a shame? We spend all of the money allocated for marketing and then the first opportunity we have to deliver on the promise we keep getting it wrong. Isn’t that a shame?”

As such, a stern-talking Myers appealed to Government and the labour unions to return to the negotiation table “with a sense of urgency and conviction” to bring the impasse affecting the efficient operation of the airport to a close.

marlonmadden@barbadostoday.bb

12 Responses to It’s a disgrace!

  1. Loretta Griffith December 8, 2016 at 2:46 am

    Mrs Myers’, we need more like you. who would call a spade a spade regardless of whom it offends. The truth can only be the truth. No amount of window dressing will correct the damage done.
    I was always told, first impressions are lasting.
    Tell persons the truth and you will be respected more, instead of telling them things to make them feel good and they eventually lose respect for you. No time for these feel good moments.
    There are too many inflated egos and instead of persons being forthright, they play to the gallery. One wonders if there is a popularity contest going on?
    I wholeheartedly support all that you have said. At the end of the day you should be able to look in the mirror and like what you see. Integrity, integrity.
    Let’s hope what you have said, wakes up somebody.
    Sometimes we are too eager to please people than to do what is right and in the interest of ALL.
    Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  2. Santini More
    Santini More December 8, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Her points are valid and as a tourism insider she has to deal with the very real fall out to tourism from Govt ineptitude. I suppose it will not be long before the Govt and their lackeys turn on her and criticize her for daring to speak the truth about their obvious failings.

    Reply
  3. Phil December 8, 2016 at 6:31 am

    Ms. Meyers, as you chaired that meeting, we do know you are the President of the BHTA. You elucidated well. as you showcased several burning issues affecting the tourism zone. I think that absolutely nothing will be said nor done to address any of them. Prime Minister and leader does nothing, Environment Minister does nothing, Tourism Minister appears in the press with a broad smirky smile announcing the arrival of a new ship or passenger plane and the Finance Minister announces new taxes and all is well.

    Reply
  4. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner December 8, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Good points but ya talking to useless politicians who think they know it all and other’s should stop making silly noises.

    Reply
  5. James Franks December 8, 2016 at 8:07 am

    James Franks says Barbados with it’s unresolved sewage issues on the South Coast is becoming a cess pit.

    Reply
  6. Kathie Daniel December 8, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Preach it, sistah!!!

    Now who else is willing to speak up and protest legally and peacefully about these issues?

    As voters, we must hold the feet of the elected government to the proverbial fire – i.e. hold them accountable for their actions or inaction.

    Reply
  7. John Walmark December 8, 2016 at 8:51 am

    KEEP THE PRESSURE ON THE GOVERNMENT . GET A COMPLETE ANSWER AND GET A DATE WHEN IT WILL BE FIXED.

    Reply
  8. John Walmark December 8, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Mr. Prime Minister
    Firstly, may I wish you a very merry Christmas and a joyful new year!
    My wife Pam and I have been travelling sometimes twice a year for 20 years to Barbados. A few years ago, we were honoured to be chosen to meet the former Prime Minister David Thompson and his family. At that time, we were made honorary Bayans, which we cherish.
    Our most recent visit was our second visit this year. In March, we brought all our family to experience Barbados. In Nov, we spent 14 days on Worthing Beach at our favourite home away from home at The Coral Sands.
    Our first beach walk was to say the least disgusting to see and smell. We both were gaging from the stench. 5 of our 14 days on Worthing were days where we were unable to even walk on the beach let alone think about swimming in the sewage in the sea.
    Barbados has been known for outstanding weather, beautiful people and pristine beaches… Any business that had an asset like the Beaches in Barbados would be cherished and protected …. Well think its time to make sure that happens.
    Residents don’t have a choice where they live but we as tourists have many choices where to spend our vacation dollars. We are now reconsidering another island … it breaks our heart to think we might not be back to Barbados ..
    What will be done to correct the sewage problem and when will it be done.
    I have sent numerous emails to various organizations without receiving one reply.
    Please reply and advise the plan.
    Respectively
    John F Walmark

    Reply
  9. Sheron Inniss December 8, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Well said. However it’s easy for the haves to say put Bim first; the have nots may have a difficulty with that.

    Reply
  10. Maya Trotz December 8, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Infrastructure upgrades are so needed. The South Coast plant is a primary treatment unit which means it removes stuff based on size and that is it. A waste of valuable water, nutrients, and energy.

    There is also a role for tourism to play.
    1. What role did the tourism industry/hotels have in the location of the South Coast Sewage Treatment plant in the first place? How efficient is it to pump sewage down to the plant and then back to Needham’s point in the first place?
    2. In early November the stench from that sewage treatment plant was horrific. Was that from sewage being emptied into the swamp or areas close by or was that due to odor control systems not working at the plant? I just cannot imagine that engineers at the BWA would dump raw sewage in their backyard. Hope I am not wrong about that.
    3. Why is the swamp not flushed everyday? It’s a swamp, it needs to flush with the sea. It’s water is brown from the leaves and organic matter one expects in a swamp. It’s a Ramsar wetlands site – it should function as one.
    4. How many hotels/tourist attractions have installed low flush toilets to conserve water? How many check for leaking toilets? How many respond to that when guests tell them about it? This is/was the case at places like the Round House, Codrington College’s public bathroom, and the Marriott.
    5. How many hotels put concrete all over their yards and don’t have a proper drainage system present so the water pools in certain cases forcing guests to wade to their rooms? How many don’t clean their gutters so they are packed with leaves and water pours in places it should not and water is not harvested in any way, but allowed to run to sea? This was my observation at Worthing Court last week.
    6. How many hotels would go for a sustainability certification that assures guests they conserve water, electricity, and can provide information on the safety and quality of the water in the sea for swimming? How many put budgets towards these things?
    7. How many hotels protect the marine environment from fertilizers and pesticides that they apply to their well manicured lawns? How many invest in coral restoration efforts infront of their properties?

    With tourism being such a huge part of Barbados’ economy, the tourism sector can make a huge impact on all sorts of infrastructure upgrades. Tourists need to push for it and they need to ask what the beach quality looks like on a daily basis – not just after a storm. And quite frankly, so many folks were swimming after the storms on Tuesday, there is surely a disconnect with what stormwater brings into the sea.

    Reply
  11. Sam Clarke December 8, 2016 at 11:22 am

    It is time to get rid of this pathetic and inept administration , called the Barbados government. We have a head that who is a somnambulist, a governor of the central bank who is an economic sorcerer and a finance minister who clearly understand anything about economics.
    So Ms. Myers, Barbados too feel your pain.
    SIMPLY PUT, THIS ADMINISTRATION SIMPLY DOES NOT GET IT.

    Reply
  12. Chris Wright December 8, 2016 at 11:30 am

    I was at the Garrison Savannah 50 years ago when the island welcome it’s Independence. As a young 25 year old, and with the leaders who were at the helm back then, our hopes were very high.
    Visiting the island on the average of every two years, on two occasions this year alone it hurts my heart to see the conditions of the island I love. Everything Rosanne Meyers said is what I have been discussing with members of groups in social media to which I am affiliated. I even addressed them in a message on this site.
    Some of the problems to be addressed are not only for the Barbados government but for Bajans in general, it is your island that many of us left due to circumstances in seeking life abroad,however WE CARE else we wouldn’t be concerned.I was told as a young child to try to leave the world and anywhere you have been, better than you found it. Just returning after celebrating the 50th I’m in pain wondering what the next 50 will be like if we don’t start unitedly to make the island even better than it is today. I’ts much more than building tourist facilities along our coast line.

    Reply

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