EDITORIAL: Act more timely, Mr Prime Minister
IN HIS MEASURED WAY, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has at last lent his voice to the raging debate over the proposed Cahill gasification plant. It is clear that he has heard the voices that have been loud in dissent on this matter.
Until he spoke on Sunday at a meeting of the St James South constituency of his Democratic Labour Party, most thinking people would have been of the view that his administration favoured the Cahill waste-to-energy proposal.
From the moment some of Mr Stuart’s ministerial colleagues went ahead and signed an arrangement with Cahill officials, he should have expected a firestorm. The solutions for environmental issues, particularly those relating to waste management, are often embroiled in controversy. Environmentalistsand others are often not receptive to varying viewpoints. Cahill has been no exception.
But there is no disputing that Barbados needs a new waste management plan. And there’s also almost universal agreement on the necessity to reduce waste generation in the first instance, and to make the most of those materials that do enter the waste stream.
Common ground also existsin the wish that no decision should create an economic burden or environmental nightmares.
The Prime Minister must realise that the country’s needs are for an entire waste management system, not just a waste-to-energy plant. He must promote the importance of public education about reducing, recycling and reusing household garbage. The problem really begins in every household and workplace. This is why Mr Stuart must also delve into the other proposals before Government that promote other solutions.
We expect all our elected officials to listen, especially when the people’s voices are raised on every side of an issue with great emotion, such as with the debate surrounding the Cahill plant. We acknowledge the decision being asked of our elected officials is not an easy one. But it was never expected to be so.
On this Cahill matter the Prime Minister must by now recognise that the public needs him to not only quietly listen and analyse all the information, but to also put his position to the public in a much more timely manner.
As the leader of a country which strives to promote sustainable development issues in small island developing nations, Mr Stuart must not only be the voice of reason but his actions must ensure the best environmental solutions for Barbados. On this issue, he must embrace the public, and his stance must signal clarity and authority.
His decisions on this matter must endure much longer than his political footprint.