Opposition Leader Mia Mottley wants Government to speed up its efforts to bring relief to St George residents who have been crying out for the awful stench emanating from the nearby Lower Estate dump.
At the same time, Mottley has suggested that the contractor responsible, Anderson Fat Child Cherry, should be made to pay if costs were determined.
Addressing a mass rally at Sheffield Field, St George last night, Mottley made no reference to what were previously reported business links between her and Cherry, but she made it clear that despite being a resident of her constituency, she would not support the illegal actions of the controversial waste hauler, who is the chief executive officer of Project Recycle and Jose y Jose Liquid & Solid Waste Management Inc.
At the same time, Mottley called on health authorities to move quickly to resolve the issue of illegal dumping at the Lower Estate quarry, while suggesting that the situation was as serious as the ongoing sewage spills on the south coast.
“The fact that the illegal dumping was done by a constituent of mine has nothing to do with the fact that it must stop, and he knows how I feel about that. I have spoken to Anderson Cherry about it,” Mottley, who is the Member of Parliament for St Michael North East said, adding that “this is not about blame, this is about fixing it.
“And if there has to be a cost, Mr Cherry will have to pay, but what matters is resolving the crisis because it is as much a public health crisis as the south coast sewage crisis is . . . different scale, but it is a crisis,” she stressed.
Earlier this year the affected St George residents had called on Mottley to lend her voice to their cause. Saying they were fed up, the residents, who had raised environmental as well as health concerns, made a special appeal to Mottley even as they were contemplating taking legal action against the landfill operator, the landowner and the Government.
“There is a rumour that Ms Mottley is a supporter of the business [run by Cherry]. Is Ms Mottley, as Opposition leader, aware of the issue?” one resident had asked at the time.
“Following on that point, it is my understanding that the constituency of Hothersal [where the dump is located] and all that area falls under the ambit of Ms Mottley. Can Ms Mottley be part of this, can she bring her voice to bear on this as she has on other pressing issues?” another resident had questioned back in January after meeting privately with attorney-at-law Gregory Nicholls.
However, in responding to the concerns raised by residents of Airy Hill, Parish Land, Flat Rock and other surrounding communities in St George, Mottley noted that the Barbados Water Authority had also expressed fear that the dump poses a possible threat to the ground water supply.
In light of this Mottley said the problem was clearly beyond Cherry’s capacity to resolve.
For this reason, she called on the authorities to take action.
“Government is to stand up. Not just send the Ministry of Health once to shut down the place, but you have to step up to the plate and get rid of the public health problem,” Mottley said, adding that “ it is the responsibility of the Chief Medical Officer and the Ministry of Health and the Environmental Protection Department to deal with it”.
Last night Clarke, who has been representing St George North in Parliament for the past 23 years, openly complained that even though ministry officials recently visited the site, “very little has happened.
“A deadline was given of December 31st for the developer to clear but this has not been done. So that while the quarry burns, and the smell continues, the residents suffer,” Clarke said.
He warned that the dumping at the Lower Estate quarry “is causing much pain and suffering.
“Residents, visitors, businesses, and shoppers have problems. At times, especially at night there is severe stench causing burning of the eyes, watery eyes, asthma attacks.
“At times the dump just burns uncontrollably. Persons have to literally shut their houses, and be like prisoners in their own homes,” Clarke said.