EDITORIAL - Stop illegal dumping, littering
Wed, 01/25/2017 - 5:41pm
Whether we want to admit it or not, this country has a very serious problem with illegal dumping and littering, and one that has to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The authorities have long been urging Barbadians to desist from these bad practices, pointing to the numerous negative impacts they can have on the environment; but still the problems persist.
We do not only mean the illegal disposal of large, bulky items like old mattresses, stoves, fridges and the like, but also everyday household garbage. As a country, we saw much of that happen last year as the Sanitation Service Authority battled challenges with maintaining a schedule of regular garbage pickups. Since then, it would seem the authorities have gotten a handle on that situation.
They have brought private contractors in to help with the garbage collection and we’ve seen less of that type of illegal dumping. However, the authorities must be mindful that should the problem recur, persons are likely again to seek unconventional means to get rid of their refuse.
There are some who would suggest that illegal dumping is not as pervasive as it was some years back; but it is still a problem and so long as it does occur, Barbadians cannot turn a blind eye to it.
That is because this practice, along with that of littering, can be quite dangerous to the health of our people and can also negatively affect the environment.
The fact is that garbage, which is inappropriately disposed of, can result in the spread of diseases such as leptospirosis and mosquito borne diseases such as dengue and Zika; contaminate our country’s precious and already limited water supply; block drains and watercourses causing flooding; and even pose danger to marine life. Proof of the latter came late last year as the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association launched its Environmental Charter, and revealed that large quantities of plastics were making their way to the marine environment, killing sea turtles and other marine life.
What is becoming clear is that this country needs to take concerted efforts to address not only illegal dumping, but essentially how people in this country dispose of garbage in general. One cannot deny that this is needed – just think of how persons so casually and without concern dispose of plastic cups, plastic bags or food wrappers as they drive or walk around the country. We need then to ensure that the laws covering all aspects of the inappropriate disposal of garbage – whether it is littering or illegal dumping – are up to date and are being properly enforced.
Without a doubt, more can certainly be done to halt these illegal acts. Indeed, we strongly believe that until someone is brought before the court and made to answer for their actions, the culprits will continue to ignore the calls to cease and desist. Just think of the many signs seen across the island informing persons that illegal dumping can result in fines and possible imprisonment; but how many people are actually prosecuted? Sadly, failure to prosecute ensures that people see these warnings as nothing more than idle threats.
Undoubtedly, this country must reach the stage where we are enforcing the relevant legislation and prosecuting the culprits to the fullest extent of the law. We have seen persons go before the courts for lesser offences and they have been held accountable. Indeed then, the time is ripe to do the same with illegal dumping and littering in our country.