EDITORIAL: National garbage plan a must
WE WELCOME THE IDEA of a national clean-up and debushing programme to rid the island of unsightly garbage and tall roadside bush.
For the last few years, Barbados has had an unhealthy, unkempt appearance that is unbecoming of a tropical paradise and exotic tourism destination. Something needed to be done and finally it seems there will be action on this matter. The project, according to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, will be implemented over the next five months.
Clearly the project has been scheduled to ensure that Barbados can present its best face for our 50th anniversary of Independence in November. Also obvious is that it will generate jobs for several hundred people leading into the usually high-spending Christmas period.
So for the country and some now unemployed people, it will be a win-win situation. It would be even better if many of those hired are from the ranks of the hundreds who were retrenched from the National Environment Enhancement Programme and the National Conservation Commission.
That said, though, we are concerned by this piecemeal approach to a very serious national problem. We want to know what happens at the end of this five-month programme? Will we be again faced with piles of garbage with the accompanying flies, vermin and bad smells? Will the bush along the highways again become unsightly? And what about the eradication of the derelict vehicles seen in just about every community?
We feel there must be an overall plan to involve Barbadians from every walk of life to tackle this national scourge. That way, whether or not enough money is raised to purchase a new fleet for the Sanitation Services Authority as Minister Sinckler plans, some community programme will be in place to address garbage disposal and collection.
For far too long there has been little effort to get public buy-in on garbage disposal and collection. There is need not only for a national education campaign to advise people on how to properly dispose of their waste, especially when collection may not come as scheduled, but partnering with private sector bodies to secure bags to place garbage in and receptacles like large metal/plastic cans with covers for safe storage.
We feel too that wide-scale waste separation needs to be put in place, and some method found to incentivise householders for separating their paper, plastics, metals, glass and other materials for collection. Equally, incentives should be given to encourage the development of more waste-sorting businesses that can turn refuse into a useful product.
Though these ideas take time, they need to be implemented as part of a comprehensive waste plan for Barbados, rather than just a sporadic clean-up drive which would be short-lived.
We need as a people to get serious about garbage disposal to protect our health and our environment. Only a comprehensive plan can achieve this.