March 12, 2010
Stop bush fires now!!!

A desperate call is going out to Vincentians to stop the practice of lighting bush fires.{{more}}

This call comes from the combined force of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVP), the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA), St. Vincent and the Grenadines Electricity Services Limited (VINLEC) and the Forestry Division in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Earlier, representatives from these entities made a passionate plea for members of the public to take note of the prolonged dry season and the strenuous impact it was having on the country.

Police Commissioner Keith Miller said the fires had serious implications and his fire fighters were “overwhelmed” by the frequency.

He said the starting of these fires was a “reckless act, a criminal offence and a dangerous practice.”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is now on a drought alert. The outing of these fires is also putting additional pressure on the limited water resources.

According to General Manager of the CWSA Garth Saunders, the water systems in this country were less than 50% average at the moment, and were not sufficient to supply at least half of the customers.

He said the fires were a serious concern to his establishment because water has to be taken from the already stretched sources to control these fires. He told reporters that it was observed that the fires were being started in the more densely populated areas, which were already affected by very low water supply.

Chief Executive Officer of VINLEC Thornly Myers also joined in the plea for the lighting of bush fires to stop. Myers said bush fires destroy the forest, which has serious environmental implications and also puts a drain on the supply of the most precious commodity at the moment, water.

He said at the moment, VINLEC was only using 2-3% of the hydro power, a drop of nearly 18% that is usually used at this time of the year, making it heavily dependent on fuel, hence making it a contributing factor in the rise in the fuel surcharge.

So far there have been close to 100 bush fires recorded for the season by the Forestry Department. Brian Johnson, representative of the department, said from January to the present, 50 fires have been noted. He, too, voiced his opinion against the practice of lighting bush fires at this very vulnerable time.