City of Shame

Visitors thrown off by piles of garbage in Bridgetown on New Year’s Day

It was recently designated a UNESCO world heritage site.

Bridgetown and its historic Garrison won the international acclaim on account of its outstanding British colonial architecture consisting of a well-preserved old town built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

However, these pictures, taken by a group of visitors, tell a totally different story.

The group of mostly first-time visitors to the island was led on a tour of the capital city on New Year’s Day by Jim Webster, a Bajan-Canadian, who is back home for his annual winter break.

To his surprise and embarrassment, they were greeted with piles of unsightly rubbish that left them feeling disgusted.

In an email to Barbados TODAY, Webster, a former employee of the then Seawell Air Services said his first thought was to “send the picture to the Guardian [newspaper] because it seems that the Barbados Government only takes action when things get into the foreign press”.

However, he decided not to go that route, even though his concern was such that he felt the situation needed to be highlighted and he immediately turned to Barbados TODAY.

“Dear Editor, [Yesterday] I took first-time visitors to Bridgetown. I was shocked and embarrassed by the amount of garbage and the state of disrepair along the walkway between the ZR bus stand and Bridgetown. There was garbage along the whole route,” he said in an email, to which was attached the necessary photographic proof.

A broken chair is one of the items that now litters the River area.
Jim Webster, a Bajan-Canadian, who is back home for his annual winter break discribes the garbage pileups in The City as an embarrassment.
In addition to garbage, there is also a problem of overgrown bush in some sections of The City.
Much of the litter comprises discarded fast-food containers.

Webster also expressed concern that garbage and litter seem to be everywhere on the island, adding, “We need to put away the rose coloured glasses. Barbados can be better than this.

“As someone who loves Barbados I feel saddened to see the lack of respect people seem to have for this once lovely land. Sadly, it wouldn’t take much to clean it up. Bajans, the Government and tourists need to quit littering and then there needs to be a concentrated effort to clean the place up. If we all did our share we could have this place looking better again . . . first we need to find the will to take the first steps,” he added.

When asked to elaborate on the matter, he expressed concern that while “there is a real problem coming from above at the level of the Government . . . at a lower level, Barbadians and tourists seem to have lost respect for this land.

“Unfortunately, when tourists see garbage then they think this is the normal and then they litter too,” Webster said, while urging Barbadians to lead by example.

He warned that “the garbage fairy is not going to clean this mess up,” adding that “the garbage is one thing, but the maintenance on what was recently a showpiece walkway is now non-existent.

“The whole island and Government buildings seem to be in a state of decay. It is like there are no street cleaners or maintenance personal working for the Government.

“Governments and management must lead by example.  That is not happening. It would take one or two hard working individuals one day of conscious effort to clean up that strip.  The job isn’t huge but nobody is doing it.

“Sweeping stuff in a pile and not carrying away doesn’t cut it,” he added.

Today Barbados TODAY contacted Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe for a response to Webster’s concerns. However, Lowe directed us to the Sanitation Service Authority whose acting General Manager Roslyn Knight said she would have to look into the matter.

11 Responses to City of Shame

  1. Brent Hotham January 3, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree that something must be done. My wife and I travel to BIM from Canada two to three times a year. Each year we return to Canada wondering who and when someone in the Government is going to do something. We stay in the Gap and it gets worse every visit. Please wake up Government or you will lose your tourism industry.

  2. Wayne P Hoyte
    Wayne P Hoyte January 3, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    I will say this again… the city need a manager, 24/7 sanitation service with more disposal bins, public wash rooms, a solutions for the homeless and vagrants, housing solutions for the surrounding districts, regular maintenance of all buildings, etc

  3. Hewers of wood January 3, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    @Wayne – in other words government need to do their job.

    This puts me in mind of in many of the Getto’s where blacks live in the USA, GB, etc which is in a filthy state too. Some one said the people would not keep their community tidy. One wise person replied, “its not their community”. No sense of belonging. huuummm

  4. Gladys Wentrobe January 4, 2017 at 4:12 am

    This is appalling! UNESCO should review the world-heritage status and put some pressure on Barbados. Otherwise Bridgetown does not deserve to keep that status.

  5. seagul January 4, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Why are there no decent and sensible politicians who are more concerned with the economic and social upliftment of the country and who will work for justice and equality? All the candidates are just corporate perpetrators who work only for the interest of U.K and U.S lobbies. After all this time, it is incredible that there is not such a body of folk who can lead with morality….

  6. Yatinkiteasy January 4, 2017 at 8:02 am

    Mr Lowes response indicates that the Minister of the Environment does not think his responsbiies include the cleaning and maintenance of public areas , such as the bus stand and streets of Bridgetown. This is the problem with our
    Ministers , they just keep passing the buck . That’s why we have the problem with the South Coast Sewage Project , the Grahame hall swamp and a dysfunctional sluice gate that is more than 80 years old. Just like the sluice gate, they need replacing… and fast!

  7. Peter January 4, 2017 at 10:12 am

    What’s the fuss? Littering has long been a national pass-time habit all over Barbados. Not only in the city. I have witnessed on a number of occasions, fast-food and styro foam containers being tossed from ZR vasns especially on the South coast. I brought this to the attention of a friend who told me that’s nothing. Women are wearing panties for over three and four days straight and they say the men love that. I kno a lot of people will condemn and criticize me for this, but face it. personal hygiene all people especially ladies should be concerned about. I keep telling myself this cannot be real. I shudder.

  8. Wayne Webster January 4, 2017 at 10:40 am

    I can assure all concerned that this Jim Webster, brother-in-law has a track record in galvanizing and organizing. Watch out and suggest Barbados Today keeps close to Jim…if you can keep up. All the best Jim. Wish I was there to help

  9. Eugene R January 4, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    I’ve recently travelled to Barbados for the holidays. I witnessed littering amongst all age groups, especially from young adults and children. I was on a government bus in the st Lucy area and this girl seated in front of me let all her litter fly outside the window into the lush and green Bajan environment.

    I’m a visitor from Canada and I really cannot tell a local to pick up their tossed trash as it is not my business how Bajans treat their country. But when your driving around paradise and you see tiny plastic bags fluttering in the foliage it definitely is not a good look.

    We live in times where everything is on demand, everything is at our fingertips in seconds, everything is fast and instantaneous. We’ve lost patience for a multitude of things, especially our own patience.

    If everyone on this planet treated their environment how Bajans treat their environment, then the world would be a trash can. We talk about global warming, over population, and rising sea levels.
    One day, Barbados will lose land mass to all of those. I understand that many Bajans have never been off the island to see other places and countries in the world. I have this perspective, it doesn’t make me an expert. But I can honestly say that Barbados is an environmental treasure and paradise.

    Please be vigilant with how you live and consume. It starts with you!

  10. Tony Webster January 5, 2017 at 2:13 am

    My pleasure to have asked Jim Webster…over a coffee…what he sees at the next, effective step…to a higher sense of purpose and responsibility for each of us. Far better than a callous brush-off from a Lowe level!
    Jim…ball in your court…

  11. Jim Webster January 14, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Since submiiting the above pictures, I have tried to be more observant of the garage situation, as we have traveled around Barbados. Firstly, I am very impressed with the sanitary workers “trash collectors” that work on the garbage trucks. Those guys are quite amazing. They are fast, friendly, efficient and will pick up anything and everything. I’ve also noticed that there are many places were residents are making a concerted effort to keep their communities clean and tidy.

    Where I notice problems are: not adequate garbage containers for the amount of garbage; garbage containers are too small in some tourist areas for the amount of garbage so if flows over onto the ground; no lids on garbage containers so the birds, dogs, rats and wind scatter garbage that had been placed in a container; too much light plastic (bags, cups, straws) which then blow about and end up in the sea; drainage ditches not being regularly cleaned; littering both by locals and tourists and a reluctance for people to pick-up litter they see on the ground. Also, inadequate enforcement of existing litter and illegal dumping laws makes no one accountable for the littering that is being done.

    Everyone has a role to play to make the situation better and that includes both the government and educators implementing programs which instil Pride in Making Barbados Clean Again.


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