EDITORIAL: Govts have failed White Hill residents
It’s a case of utter neglect – pure and simple! We really do not need to say much more to sum up why residents of White Hill, St Andrew, believe they have been given a raw deal when it comes to the state of the road to their homes.
We cannot blame Government for the fact that the land keeps slipping away. That is an act of Mother Nature. White Hill falls squarely within that section of Barbados known as the Scotland District, and it is common knowledge that much of this area, because of the soil structure, is very susceptible to slippage.
But like every other impact nature has on a population, it is expected that those in authority will do what is necessary, within the national means, to mitigate against the problems caused by these conditions.
That’s why, for example, a government is expected to initiate flood mitigation measures in flood-prone areas; why emergency mechanisms are established in a nation that falls within a hurricane belt; why conservation strategies are expected in drought-prone locations; or why retention structures are installed on hillsides susceptible to rock slides.
But when it comes to Barbados’ Scotland District, both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party have failed the residents miserably. This current DLP Government has been particularly neglectful and must accept much of the responsibility for the residents’ current plight.
White Hill has been subject to sustained land slippage for decades. Dozens of residents have been moved, while others have moved in.
Almost annually, when the rains set in and land slippage is exacerbated, residents cry out afresh and the official chatter restarts, but dies with the end of the rainy season. The cracks in the road get bigger, or maybe a section of the district becomes inaccessible from Hillaby and residents and visitors are forced into a detour several kilometres long in order to enter the district from the St Saviour’s side.
Residents also learn to live with shortened bus routes and reduced services from agencies like the Sanitation Service Authority, occasioned by the road damage.
Had this been the situation in White Hill alone though, it would have been bad enough. But we can add to the picture Fruitful Hill, Parks Road, Lower Parks, Dark Hole, Boarded Hall, Cane Garden, Spa Hill, Mellows, Suriname, Vaughn’s Road and Turners Hall, among others.
What the country needs is a state-sponsored programme that identifies all these damaged roads, the cost and benefits of rehabilitation, and a timetable for the execution of each project. And an integral part of this undertaking has to be the provision of adequate funding, equipment and personal from the Soil Conservation Unit so that it can return to its old mandate of securing roads and land generally across the Scotland District.
Perhaps then, residents of this portion of the island would feel as though they are receiving equal treatment — and the people of White Hill will start again to feel like valued citizens.