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EDITORIAL: Enforce laws against illegal dumping


EDITORIAL: Enforce laws against illegal dumping

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BARBADOS HAS a serious illegal dumping problem. The country also faces a major garbage disposal challenge. One only has to look around in every parish and almost every district and the evidence is there.

Sidewalks, cart roads, gullies and even the beaches are littered with garbage. Some of it is illegal dumping done by those not willing to go to the landfill. Dumping on the streets has to do with downright laziness and the indifference of people who do not care about their neighbours or their communities. Their only concern is not to have any solid waste at their home.

A series of pictures in recent months in NATION newspapers has vividly  recorded the problem, whether before or after Christmas, Easter and any of the major festivals, or when there are insufficient Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) vehicles to cover all the routes. Discarded mattresses, old furniture and appliances all add to a problem already caused by a mountain of household waste.

They all add up to not only an eyesore but are sure breeding grounds for vermin. This illegal practice we have so dearly embraced could threaten the underground water supply, is an inconvenience to many and costly to some who must pay to have their own properties cleaned because of the irresponsible actions of others.

The problem shows why this country needs a sweeping overhaul of the efforts to contain not only illegal dumping, but the way its citizens dispose of garbage on the streets. There are serious health consequences beyond damage to the environment if there is no curtailment of this foolish behaviour.

Data needs to be collected which can identify trouble spots, and a public education campaign mounted, targeting litterbugs and complemented by the placement of thousands of collection cans at various points across the country.

It is evident also that Barbados must move to sort and separate its garbage for recycling and composting instead of sending it all the landfill.

Nevertheless, there is no easy panacea for the cesspit in which we find ourselves, but the situation provides damning evidence that the Ministry of the Environment and the SSA must move beyond talk and institute meaningful action to resolve the problem. Admittedly, they cannot undertake such a project alone and should embrace service clubs, community organisations and volunteers with the passion and capacity to make this national initiative succeed.

The type of energy and effort the Ministry of the Environment displayed in recent weeks over the now infamous tipping fee saga should be replicated in the fight to resolve the illegal and indiscriminate dumping problem.

There must be relentless pursuit of those who infringe the laws by instituting severe punitive action.

The SSA and the Ministry of the Environment must enforce the regulations relating to illegal dumping if Barbados is to overcome this monumental problem.