Legal push

BLP nudges south coast residents and businesses to take action

As the public outcry over the worsening south coast sewage mess intensifies, two frustrated business operators today said they were ready and willing to take legal action against the state-run Barbados Water Authority (BWA) for losses incurred over the past year.

This is in keeping with the free legal advice dished out to them this afternoon by Queen’s Counsel and Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate for Christ Church South Ralph Thorne, who strongly advised the affected residents and businesses to seek legal redress, amid the out-of-control situation, which now poses a health hazard.

“I am ready to take legal action along with other businesses and residents,” said businessman Ray George, who has been forced to shut down his catering company at Worthing, Christ Church due to the sporadic overflows of effluent, which have flared up at various points over the past 12 months.

Queen’s Counsel Ralph Thorne (inset) has strongly advised the affected residents and business operators, including Ray George (right) who says the sewage water is now surrounding the front of his house, to seek legal address.

However, he made it clear that he was not about to mount a legal challenge on his own but said he was quite amenable to being part of a class action suit against Government.

“I can’t do it on my own,” he said, while complaining that quite apart from the impact on his commercial operations, life for him and his wife was simply unbearable as they were now virtual prisoners in their own home.

In fact, reporters were able to experience first-hand their misery as George’s wife sought to beckon photographers to her home, but this proved impossible due to the amount of sewage water that is currently settled in front of their residence.

With the situation as it is, George said he was forced to use a man-made hole to get in and out of his home.

He also told reporters that his wife had been experiencing frequent bouts of unexplained diarrhea and itching.

“For the last three weeks we have been going to the doctor and taking blood tests. It’s not good, it’s not good at all.  . . . There is a virus in [her] system.

“We trying our best to see what we could do. [but over] the last two weeks we spent over $1,000 in blood tests and all kind of tests,” an emotional George told reporters.

Another upset resident, Carey Plant, said he and his wife feared the impact that the situation was having on the country’s vital tourism sector. However, businessman, Keith Turton, who owns apartments on the south coast, was more concerned about the impact the situation was having domestically and said he had no problem with being part of a class action suit against the BWA.

In fact, Turton was adamant that something had to done about the awful stench which he said was getting worse by the day.

“I am in Dover and I can smell it,” he told reporters immediately following a press conference called by Thorne and two other BLP Christ Church candidates outside the Worthing Post Office this afternoon to address the chronic sewage leaks.

Describing it as a “national disaster”, Christ Church West candidate Dr William Duguid, who is a dentist by profession, warned of serious health implications not only for those who live and work in the area, but those who traverse the Worthing and Hastings districts.

“This is a major health problem. Exposure to sewage gives you a significant risk of gastroenteritis, Hepatitis A, significant enterovirus problems, significant retrovirus problems, estracoli bacteria and a whole host of problems with diarrhea and all sorts of issues that can be a major health issue,” he said, adding that it was small wonder Barbados was experiencing serious gastroenteritis problems.

“When people are walking by, people are being splashed. You get the bacteria and the virus on your car and your car wheels and you carry that home. A child touches it and they get all sorts of problems, and this has been an issue that has been going on for 12 months,” Dr Duguid stressed.

While pointing out that the sewage concerns were first raised by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley back in 2015, Dr Duguid noted that there had been several pronouncements by Government officials since then that the problem had been fixed. Yet, he said, it continues.

“This is no longer crisis management. This is disaster management, and it is an absolute disaster for the residents and the businesses in this community,” he said.

Echoing the sentiment expressed by former BLP minister of health and the environment Elizabeth Thompson in a Barbados TODAY interview yesterday, the BLP’s Christ Church East candidate Wilfred Abrahams said current Minister of Health John Boyce, Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick and Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe should all be sacked over the Government’s failure to bring the situation under control.

However, unlike Thompson, he did not recommend firing Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler or Minister of the Tourism Richard Sealy on account of the sordid mess.

Nonetheless, Abrahams said he had no confidence in the BWA’s diagnosis of the problem.

“This is not one we can delay until after elections. This is not one we can kick down the road. This is one that needs a fix and needs a fix now. This is a serious environmental disaster.

“And while we are waiting on that, somebody needs to come and advise how to deal with this . . . what precautions should people be taking. The chief medical officer needs to come to the public of Barbados and advise them. Has it contaminated the ground water? What are the possible areas of concern? What should people who have to use this area be doing?” said Abrahams, who is also an attorney at law.

Today, with the awful stench of sewage ever present, and strong signs of overflows still visible in patches along the streets, Thorne urged residents and businesses to contact their attorneys with a view to taking legal action against the BWA, which is responsible for the overall management of the sewage system.

“I would suggest that business houses, not only residents, business houses should contact their lawyers,” he said, adding that “it is clear that BWA is not intending to do anything and the first order of business resides with courtesy.

“I think they are obligated to have some courtesy and tell Barbadians what stage we are at and how long this problem is going to persist. They haven’t done that. . . . [and] I am inviting residents and businesses who are directly affected by this scourge, to speak to their lawyers as urgently as tomorrow and get a letter off to them [BWA],” he said.

He explained that in the same way the Ministry of Transport and Works is culpable when drivers’ vehicles are damaged by potholes, the BWA was also culpable with respect to the sewage leaks, which he said had caused people on the south coast to suffer economic and financial losses as well as loss of good health.

Just two days ago, Estwick had reported that the country was seeking outside help in a bid to resolve the situation.

At the time, he said he had already apprised Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of the seriousness of the situation. He also said he would seek the support of Cabinet for the construction of an ultramodern sewage plant to replace the current system, which he described as aged.

Health Minister John Boyce had also indicated to Barbados TODAY on Tuesday as he prepared to enter Parliament, that his ministry was working to identify the trouble spots in an effort to keep people away from them while Sealy said the BWA had advised that it was doing all it could to address the situation.

emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

37 Responses to Legal push

  1. Roger Manning
    Roger Manning December 7, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    Totally embarrassing going into the peak tourist season.

    Reply
  2. MARIA Holder December 7, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    As with the St. Joseph drought saga, I smell another rat (pun intended) with this situation

    Reply
  3. Silvio December 7, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    “…the BWA had advised that it was doing all it could to address the situation.”

    Seems fairly obvious as this travesty drags on and on and on that “all it could” is just not enough. So where does that leave us?

    Reply
  4. Sheldine Dyall
    Sheldine Dyall December 7, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Too long and it seems as though there’s no relief in sight

    Reply
  5. Antheia Springer-Williams
    Antheia Springer-Williams December 8, 2017 at 12:00 am

    Used to enjoy half a chicken in Hastings, unfortunately now a thing of the past. How many other persons think that way? Restaurants and bars must of course be losing money.

    Reply
    • Epaphras D. Williams
      Epaphras D. Williams December 8, 2017 at 12:55 am

      Water-borne diseases can’t be too far away either. I really cannot believe this is happening in real time.

      Reply
    • Danny Clarke
      Danny Clarke December 8, 2017 at 4:44 am

      Yep Antheia despite me liking my half chicken similar to you I honestly can’t patronize any of the places in the heart of the problem. Can’t be good for staff either ,not only the health issues but job wise because after lack of business comes lay offs or even closure because I’m sure many of the affected businesses have rent and bills to still pay monthly . How much longer can they really continue

      Reply
    • Epaphras D. Williams
      Epaphras D. Williams December 8, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Good observation Danny.

      Reply
    • hcalndre December 8, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      This thing was going on for over 2 years, I first smell the sh— when passing Chefette. Why would Estwick have to tell the PM when he is only one mile away, Barbados is only a 2×2 place. I believe that Stuart could smell the thing from his residence.

      Reply
  6. Gail Agard Wallace
    Gail Agard Wallace December 8, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Unbelievable. One word.

    Reply
  7. John Everatt December 8, 2017 at 12:39 am

    This is not “sporadic overflows of effluent” as this article says. This is an every day occurrence. I see it every day. There are certainly some businesses that I have stopped patronizing because I do not wish to have to wade through sewage or get splashed in order to get there. I don’t see how some of the restaurants in the area stay in business with the stink of sewage in the air. People don’t want to eat under those circumstances. This has been going on for going on 2 years now and we can not trust or believe the lies given to us by the BWA and by this government. We can’t wait until the elections to fix this.

    Reply
  8. Sharon Woolley
    Sharon Woolley December 8, 2017 at 1:37 am

    A supposedly prime tourist destination in 2017, this wouldn’t be happening in a remote African village. Sooner or later people are going to get sick.

    Reply
  9. Dennis Taitt
    Dennis Taitt December 8, 2017 at 2:57 am

    Hmm

    Reply
  10. MArk Anthony
    MArk Anthony December 8, 2017 at 3:31 am

    Oh sht

    Reply
  11. Committed Bajan December 8, 2017 at 4:35 am

    I believe that it is blocked somewhere and the best needs to employ sonar vision to check the entire line, I am so embarrassed by this.
    Residents and businesses alike must also take some blame as when it was cleaned some time ago many unnatural things like beach towels were found in the line, how did they get there?

    Reply
    • tedd December 8, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      go to laurie dash and get a remote controlled jeep and a nanny cam.

      Reply
  12. Tony Webster December 8, 2017 at 4:50 am

    We sure flushing above our weight.

    Reply
  13. Ali Baba
    Ali Baba December 8, 2017 at 4:53 am

    where the going find all this money from to build and ultra modern plant from? so if the pumps are broken, or what ever else, new ones can’t be ordered?. or the waiting on ah ppp arrangement…well when ya vote for sewage thats what ya get.jokers dem are, soon there will be cancellations of tourist arrivals, and a detour to other islands…

    Reply
    • Eddy Murray
      Eddy Murray December 8, 2017 at 5:43 am

      it cannot be the plant if the sewage water is coming up in the man holes in the streets it is that there a blockages same where in the systems. If you put in a new plant and the blockages are still in the lines you will have the same old problems. They should send down micro cameras on the lines to see where those blockages are.

      Reply
      • Silvio December 8, 2017 at 6:22 am

        Is the root of the problem blockages in the pipes, or does the entire system just not have the capacity anymore to handle the volume of sewage that is flowing into it? The latter problem would be far harder, far more disruptive and certainly much more expensive to fix than the former.

        Reply
      • harry turnover December 8, 2017 at 7:31 am

        People on the South Coast FLUSHING things that they know should not be flushed down their toilets blocking up the lines.

        Reply
    • Ali Baba
      Ali Baba December 8, 2017 at 6:06 am

      Eddy Murray OK ED POINT TAKEN….BUT OVER AH YEAR NOW IS TOO LONG….WE COULD VERY WELL SEE TOURIST HEADING TO OTHER ISLANDS…THIS IS BAD ON AH WHOLE

      Reply
  14. Richard King
    Richard King December 8, 2017 at 5:58 am

    Total eye pass that two Ministers could get in the sea trying to convince us all is well, instead of fixing the damn problem and here we are losing money, losing visiters, getting sick and the problem getting bigger.

    Reply
  15. Richard King
    Richard King December 8, 2017 at 6:00 am

    There no end to these morons madness, we must all suffer.

    Reply
  16. Steve Thomas
    Steve Thomas December 8, 2017 at 6:47 am

    All a DEM should be held a accountable.. It’s hard to believe DEM can can spend money on Rihanna Dr. But can’t put a dime to a serious sewage issue and health problem ….
    All a DEM is a bunch of incompetent hemorrhoids…nuff said!

    Reply
  17. Donna C Bell Murray December 8, 2017 at 7:48 am

    Build a ” new ultra modern sewage plant” really? When? next week? Even if we get the money, that will take a year to build. Should we hold our breath in the mean time? And of course, it will not be maintained properly, so in 15 yrs we will be back in the same state.

    Reply
  18. James Franks December 8, 2017 at 8:47 am

    These reports of sewage on the streets will destroy tourism this upcoming season when the news ” leaks” out.

    Quite disgraceful negligence of this discredited Administration.

    Bring on the Election, time for change!!

    Reply
  19. Ralpw W Talma December 8, 2017 at 8:50 am

    If tourism is your business then your sewage farms must be in tip-top condition at all times. For some reason, we have been failing for some years. Enough is enough!!

    Reply
  20. straight talk December 8, 2017 at 9:36 am

    I know people talking bout this in other countries this gone far and wide. hmmm

    Reply
  21. Kathy December 8, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Government is a continuum please be careful what you wish for.

    Reply
    • straight talk December 8, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      No body here is wishing anything bad for Barbados everybody concern is the state that the country is in and the manner in which the government is dealing with it.

      Reply
  22. milli watt December 8, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    all you need now is a blow out wid de man hole going up 30 feet and sewage from christ church to st. michael…………clock ticking

    Reply
  23. Merle Thompson December 8, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Building a ultra modern sewage system is not the solution to our present situation. It is also a typical answer to every government building that has fallen into disrepair for lack of maintenance
    Great healt problems can occur
    Please tell the truth before you leave the House
    There is no money to fix the problem
    God preserve us

    Reply
  24. Helicopter(8P) December 8, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Let’s at the present moment forget about contaminated ground water. As long as there is an odor of tinge in the air it is airbourne bacteria. This is a major problem for our chief foreign exchange earner.The nation needs to come together as one to fight this Armagedion! Dr Holder I wish that you offer some maracalous prayers along with all other denominations. What have we done in the sight of God that we are so harmpered ? Decontamination stations may have to be put in place at our ports of disembarking. We in the future must examine our infurstucture with due care and attention and nominate persons who will fairly report on discrepancies pertaining our welfare and health.

    Reply
  25. Sheron Inniss December 8, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    I can’t blame the gov’t totally for this one. Things that should not have been in the sewer was found on cleaning. If this is so a new system will not fix the problem.

    Some people are just plain nasty. It is the same with dumping in gullies and other natural water courses that contribute to crises during the rainy and hurricane season.

    Reply
  26. Sheron Inniss December 8, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    That said if I was a business person or resident and I knew I was upholding my end of the bargain I would sue.

    Reply

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