BLP COLUMN: Rough and tough time
The primary purpose of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is to in every area provide A Better Life For Our People.
So it is in this spirit that the BLP family extends a sincere and hearty welcome back to public life to the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) MP for Christ Church East, Dr Denis Lowe, after his prolonged but successful bout with serious illness.
We wish that we could have given him a ministerial title but, like the rest of the country, we are after all of this time still not sure if he is still Minister of Environment, Water Resources and Drainage or Minister Without Portfolio, as had been suggested once but never mentioned again in Government circles.
Or do we in Barbados in reality have two Ministers of the Environment, etcetera, a bizarre situation that would not be unusual under the Dems, who in their last administration at one time had two Ministers of Agriculture. So public confusion is fully understandable.
But whether the Minister of Drainage, etcetera, is Dr Lowe or Mr Denis Kellman or the loudmouth John Boyce, whose ministry also has a drainage unit, what the public has been very clear and disturbed about over the past several days, has been the total absence of ministerial visual and verbal presence and leadership when many areas of Barbados suffered serious flooding during the recent bout of rainfall that plagued the country over several days.
We are not sure which shocked and surprised Barbadians more – the totally unexpected and very damaging and dangerous flooding or the lack of any comment or explanation from Mr Boyce or Mr Kellman, who is normally exceedingly talkative about matters even when they are not within his portfolio, and who as far as the public knew was at the time still the official Minister of Drainage since Dr Lowe had not yet returned to ministerial action.
The public’s strong feelings would have been triggered by vivid memories of the grandiose promises Dr Lowe had made about his ministry’s plans for dealing with flooding, when in the 2009 Estimates debate he, with great fanfare, announced, among other things, that Government would be adopting a “year-round flood-prevention approach”, a “flood prevention management strategy” to ensure that people’s lives would not be disrupted again, the setting up of a “flood prevention hotline, where we invite the public to call in areas that they know the ministry needs to be aware of”, vowing that the ministry was “ready to get the job done relative to drainage and flooding” in Barbados in general, while flooding in Holetown would be a thing of the past.
How much of this has been achieved?
People need clear, strong and direct assurances that at a time when they are anxiously overburdened by endless price rises, a protracted crippling economy, and a steadily growing health crisis over the cost and availability of drugs from the public health sector, they will not have to further raise their stress level with fears of flooding whenever it rains.
Health Minister Donville Inniss might not fear losing votes, but the public rightly dreads losing lives over changes in the Drug Service and failure with the management of drainage and flooding.