EDITORIAL - Authorities must enforce laws

This past weekend there was yet another activity undertaken to clean up a one of this country’s environs.

On Saturday, the Barbados Tourism Product Authority’s (BTPA) Clean Bim campaign made the effort to clean up the Warrens, St Michael area and also to educate the public about proper waste management, recycling and reducing the use of plastics. At the end of the exercise, Chief Executive Officer of that organisation, Dr. Kerry Hall, hit the nail squarely on the head when she said that enforcement of legislation is needed in order to stop indiscriminate dumping on the island.

According to Dr. Hall, “Education and sensitisation, yes, is a way, and putting up more receptacles is another way, but if all else fails, enforcement has to come into play because people don’t tend to do things unless there are consequences attached… In the final analysis, we will all suffer if we destroy the environment of this nation. It has to be stopped, and it has to be stopped now, by any means necessary. A zero tolerance approach has to be taken to this situation.”

This paper is already on record calling for a change in attitude towards keeping the environment clean, and also calling for a change in how illegal dumpers are handled by the authorities. Last April we lamented the fact that one such person who was caught in the act while news cameras rolled got a “slap on the wrist” with no fines issued or court proceedings pursued, only a requirement to dispose of the garbage in the correct manner. At the time we opined that there should be no question as to whether persons are fined or prosecuted for repeated dumping offences. Just as other crimes are punishable by law, this should be no different.

It was further emphasised that this behaviour should be considered a serious offence since tourism is Barbados’ No. 1 money earner and littering could have implications for our economy and its ability to attract foreign exchange.

As if in testimony to this, it was recently revealed that the BTPA reported last year that visitors were complaining about the dirty state of the island. We cannot afford to have our beautiful natural landscape destroyed at the hands of a few negative elements, so it is time to act to stop littering.

Two years ago Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe stated that “one of the big problems in this country is not a shortage of laws” to deal with these people, “it is the anaemic responses you get from the enforcers of those laws in many cases”. Nevertheless, at the time the Minister stated that his Ministry was set to pilot two pieces of legislation, which had specific penalties attached to persons who violate the law with regard to preserving the environment, to be enforced through a partnership between the Ministry responsible for executing and the Royal Barbados Police Force.

Up to present, there has been no real advancement made on this issue and culprits continue to dump illegally without penalty. It has to stop!

Government departments and law enforcement officers need to get tough on illegal dumpers and stop paying lip service to legislation; if not for the sake of this country’s economic future, then for the safe health of this and future generations.

Barbados Advocate

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