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EDITORIAL: It’s time to speak up, Dr Lowe


EDITORIAL: It’s time to speak up, Dr Lowe

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DR DENIS LOWE, you have been marked absent.

At a time when Barbados has been experiencing a range of environmental issues stretching as far back as three years when there was a fire at B’s Recycling that had many in this country gripped in fear and concern as it raged for about a week, to issues this year of garbage mounting across the country causing a hazard and danger especially in the face of rising dengue cases and reports of Zika, you, Mr Minister, have been silent.

It is a dereliction of duty that you fail to report to the people of Barbados even though the environment continues to be compromised. The task falls to you, sir, as Minister of the Environment.

It was shocking and embarrassing to see the mounting heap at the St Thomas metal dump site in the last SUNDAY SUN.

Three years ago the hazardous fire that occurred there forced residents of Cane Garden, St Thomas to move. Every day as the fire raged, emergency management officials, including Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite, spent many hours at the site briefing the concerned public on the fire, trying to allay fears and calm nerves.

A report on the blaze was promised and sadly, the public is still waiting. Far from hearing the details of the report, the heap has been allowed to build, without containment.

Residents who live close by have again registered their concerns, and rightfully so. They are the ones who have to live with this eyesore in sight, and God forbid if a fire breaks out again, for they are the ones who will be most affected.

We join MP for St Thomas Cynthia Forde in calling for the report to be made public. We also agree that Barbadians are entitled to be apprised of any decision on the future of the facility as was promised.

Mr Minister, your silence is deafening, especially at a time when there are so many concerns about vermin breeding, mosquitoes and the threat of dengue fever and Zika. How can officials continue to sit and allow this dump to grow given the health threats we face as a country?

Just last Friday, the Ministry of Health circulated a statement appealing to householders to take the necessary measures to reduce the mosquito population, including securely covering domestic water storage containers, and properly discarding old tyres. The ministry’s fogging programme continues in high-risk areas, and a special caution went out to pregnant women as they are at risk of being infected with the Zika virus at any stage of pregnancy.

Sadly, on Tuesday, the ministry announced it was investigating the cause of microcephaly in two babies delivered at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Doctors are now trying to determine whether the birth defects are linked to Zika.

Mr Lowe, given all these concerns, we urge you to break your silence on the range of environmental problems facing this country.