Wednesday, April 24, 2024

EDITORIAL: Heavy price of littering

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On Saturday night last the heavens opened, the rain fell steadfastly and many Barbadians securely tucked themselves in and continued sleeping.  
That is how it was expected to be in this aspiring first world country. We are on our way to becoming first world, but if we are to succeed in this goal, a few things which we take for granted must command our attention because they cannot any longer be taken for granted.
This country cannot any longer afford the disaster of extreme flooding and the risk to life and limb that accompanies a more than average steady downpour.
Anyone who saw the pictures in the print and electronic media of near devastation in parts of Wotton, Bush Hall, Haggatt Hall and other areas in Christ Church and in St George will readily agree that this is not a picture consistent with near first world status.
Thousands of Barbadians must not continue to live in fear of heavy rainfall accompanied by the issuance of a flood warning from the Meteorological Office. But live in fear is what they now do, because recent experience has shown that heavy rainfall almost always ends in flooding of some land areas surrounding their houses and apartments.
This makes it very difficult for anyone easily to survive if they venture outside their homes, other than with extreme caution during these floods.
So that property may de damaged but life is also at risk, and given such potential consequences, one wonders what restrains the Drainage Unit of the Ministry of the environment from doing the kind of job that considerably reduces the kind of problem which arose last Sunday morning.
It is not usual to hear of water five feet high, and the sight of children being carried to safety on the heads of adults, themselves up to their chest in the water, is as frightening as it is potentially unhealthy.
The Minister of the Environment must not remain quiet on this one. Inclement weather cannot be avoided, and we must therefore be told why the ministry cannot ensure that the drains are kept free of debris on a regular basis.
Yet we must be brutally frank. Members of the public must play their part in keeping the drains clear. Based on the real evidence of the garbage such as styrofoam containers, plastic bags and the like that have been retrieved from the drains, littering and simply irresponsible dumping are very much a part of the problem.  
A bag of garbage was found in a drain in the Wotton area, and that once it was removed the water ran off quickly. But how did it get into the drain?
The situation at Scotts Gap, Brittons Hill, is instructive. The Ministry of Transport and Works is now constructing a drain in that area, a well known flood-prone area. The uncompleted drain completely took away the water and the residents breathed a sigh of relief in an area that for four decades had been severely flooded whenever there was a downpour. Need we say more?
The answer to the flooding problem requires work both by the Ministry and by its Drainage Unit; but nothing will be achieved unless we stop all indiscriminate littering and dumping, since a blocked drain is as good as no drain at all; and that is a no-brainer.  
Littering will cost us lives when it floods!

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