A plea to all Bajans
OUR NATIONAL MOTTO is Pride And Industry. Based on recent economic trends and social behaviour of our people, some have said of Barbados and its people, that this motto should be rewritten “Little pride and no industry”.
Sadly, that indictment is partly and undeniably true. I draw attention mainly to our garbage and litter problems (which are immense), and offer some suggestions to improve this epidemic which sullies our nation and its perception by the world at large, particularly to our visitors in the tourism sector, which is undoubtedly the economic lifeline of our economy.
One only has to drive around any parish or visit almost any beach to witness that our people litter and dump garbage indiscriminately. Added to this problem are the derelict houses and cars, and bush virtually everywhere. The grass even grows in our roads! If we are honest, we as Barbadians should feel ashamed of ourselves.
This behaviour by some of our people, which is widespread and pervasive, is an outright betrayal of our national motto we claim to uphold, as well as to our espoused ideals and values.
Our island looks run down and dirty. One only need visit an island like Bermuda to realise just how bad our situation is. Bermuda, by contrast, is well manicured where you struggle even to find litter on its streets. There is also little or no evidence of indiscriminate dumping or derelict houses or cars.
We must first educate our people to have true pride in our “Little Rock” or “gemstone”, and to refrain from dropping any litter or dumping garbage indiscriminately. We also need to encourage them to keep their properties well kept and tidy. Overgrown lots, derelict properties, dumped old appliances, tyres and abandoned cars must become a thing of the past.
The key is to educate our people. This must start in the primary schools and continue into the secondary, as part of their curriculum. Students from all schools ought to regularly take day trips to observe the problems and be given the opportunity, in appropriate ways, to assist in the clean-up. They should also be encouraged to educate their parents to do the right thing.
The education should also be extended to our entire nation on television and social media. Public signage should be erected to encourage our people not to litter and to understand that when they litter or fail to upkeep their properties, they are insulting their island and all of its people.
Our people should be encouraged to rebuke anyone they see littering and report them to the appropriate authorities, and wherever possible, to set the example by picking it up themselves and disposing of it properly.
However to deal with this problem we need to be adequately equipped by both the Government and private sector. If you visit most beaches or public venues, you will not find adequate trash bins. Sometimes there are none at all! The same is true of virtually all bus stops where litter is often found.
There should be multiple garbage bins on all of our beaches and public venues, and one at every bus stop. It should also be mandatory for all minibuses, ZRS and other public transport buses and vehicles to have a trash bin on board to try and alleviate the all too present problem of people throwing their litter out the windows of these vehicles.
We also need to establish a special unit in Government to, among other things, police overgrown and derelict properties, indiscriminate littering and garbage disposal. This unit should be given vehicles and adequate personnel to monitor our roads and countryside with power to levy immediate fines. Fines should be meaningful and imposed rigorously to make examples of people.
If people leave their properties derelict or abandon them, then Government should move swiftly to have them cleaned up at the owners’ expense and if needs be, given the power to sell properties to recover its costs.
Abandoned and derelict houses should also be compulsorily acquired and sold by public auction. This will assist in helping to solve the housing shortage.
Government and/or the private sector should also establish garbage collection points in every parish where people can, for a nominal fee, dispose of their refuse, old appliances, derelict cars and so on. These units should operate as businesses to recycle and recover part or all of their costs.
The prisoners who are not a danger to society, should be made on a daily basis to assist in the clean-up of our beaches and countryside. They should be equipped to clean up and remove all the bush as well as to deal with derelict properties and cars.
The above are but a few of the solutions to our existing problems. Let’s together make Barbados a place to be truly proud of again.