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How many more?


How many more?

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“I regularly find beer bottle tops, plastic bags, fast food containers, drinks cans and, the worst I have witnessed, discarded disposable nappies on the beach.”

Geoffrey Padgham is yet another visitor – this time from the United Kingdon – literally begging us to keep the place clean and tidy and reminding us that “Tourism is the main industry now and in the future, so the island’s cleanliness and image is everything”.

How many more rebukes like that will we Barbadians take before we – all of us; not only the Sanitation Service Authority – begin to keep our island clean; before we begin to show some pride?

Why do visitors have to beg us to keep our own house clean and tidy? Aren’t we ashamed?

How many more visitors will it take to warn us that we are rapidly destroying our environment? Hardly a week passes without a letter in the newspapers drawing to our attention the disgusting way we pollute our island home.

Visitors comment on the litter and the garbage strewn all around; and we seem unable to make the connection that we court disease by increasing the rat and mosquito populations, not to mention what it costs us to keep the country clean.

They comment on the acrid black smoke we willingly inhale, as if it were oxygen, from the badly-tuned vehicles; and we seem unable to make the connection that the spiralling cases of asthma and other respiratory ailments are the direct consequences.

They comment on the loud noise emanating from nightclubs and homes well into the wee hours, the altered mufflers on cars and motorcycles, the racket on public service vehicles, the boom boxes in homes, the dogs, the kites flying all night, the karaoke parties; and we seem unable to make the connection that the 800 schoolchildren with hearing impairment – identified eight years ago – are so affected because of this very situation.

So we go merrily along – bumpin’ and winin’ – oblivious to the damage we’re doing to the 166 square miles we inhabit. Who cares!

Not to worry – we know how to fix the problem. When tourism collapses, we will throw a few million borrowed dollars at the problem and the Barbados Tourism Authority and its affiliated departments will mount campaigns to woo the visitors back.

They will board planes (the minister will likely go first-class, as usual) and fly around the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and across the English Channel into Germany and Scandinavia with a 20-member retinue of cultural ambassadors, fire-eaters, stilt-walkers and limbo dancers, and beg the visitors to come back to “Beautiful Barbados, our island in the sun”.

To witness more disposable nappies, plastic bags and condoms on Browne’s Beach?