EDITORIAL: Time to get tough on illegal dumpers
Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Adrian Forde, has declared zero tolerance for illegal dumping in this country under his watch.
Speaking at the launch of a Clean and Green campaign last week, Minister Forde said, “...Gone are the days where I will be telling persons to come and clean up after they dump illegally,” adding: “I am not into the business of forgiving. That is what the Church is there for. If they are involved in the activities of illegal and illicit dumping, I believe and I am sure this is the belief of the entire Government, that they should face the law courts. And this is as simple as it gets for me.” He later spoke directly to those who would seek to destroy the ecosystem through dumping, stating: “I am saying that your days are numbered because we are going to put cameras. And when those persons are caught, I am going to ensure that the policemen and the Court and the legal system do their job.”
We are sure that the majority of Barbadians – certainly those who are not guilty of these actions – can agree with the Minister’s stance on illegal dumping. The practice has long been a serious problem in this small island, where it has not only been an eyesore in some areas, but has contributed to flooding in others where gullies and watercourses become blocked with garbage and litter.
However, while we support Minister Forde’s no-nonsense perspective, we must point out that this attitude is nothing new. Previous Environment Ministers from different political parties have stated as much and with as much fervour and, unfortunately, the outcomes have all been the same – a slap on the wrist. And the use of cameras as a deterrent may not yield the results desired, as several instances of illegal dumping have been caught on camera in the past with no harsh penalties being enforced. One of the more infamous cases was not only recorded, but televised on the CBC TV 8 Evening News on Monday, April 18, 2016, where a team from the Environmental Health Unit spotted a truck dumping illegally on a St. Thomas site. The owner of the vehicle was tracked down and instructed to clear the area and the Environmental Health Officer indicated that was as far as it would go once the site was cleared.
In highlighting this issue in the past, this paper has shown that the legislation has to have “teeth” and not only show them menacingly, but bite a few culprits to ward off any potential future transgressors. It looks as if Minister Forde is prepared to do just that.
And he will have the backing not just of this paper, but most Barbadians; those who are the silent majority and who go about every day for the most part doing the right thing. It is called “illegal” dumping for a reason. It is illegal. There should be no question as to whether persons are fined, or prosecuted for repeated offences. Just as other crimes are punishable by law, this should be no different.
Tourism is Barbados’ No. 1 money earner. We cannot afford to have our beautiful, natural landscape destroyed at the hands of a few negative elements. Government departments and law enforcement officers need to get tough on illegal dumpers and stop paying lip service to legislation.