Opposition leader Dr Godwin Friday is advocating for the cleanup process in the red and orange zones to be a national matter and not one that is treated as a public/private issue.
The Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) recently initiated a massive cleanup programme in the various hazard zones on St Vincent to clean up ash and debris from main and arterial roads.
BRAGSA’s Chief Executive Officer, Ken Bartholomew told SEARCHLIGHT recently that cleaning of ash build-up will occur in communities as far as Petit Bordel on the Leeward side of the island, and up to the Rabacca bridge on the windward side.
The cleanup also includes schools, police stations, health centres and other government buildings.
But Friday, who was speaking on the New Times radio programme yesterday, said that more should be done in the clean up in the various communities.
“I would like to see an approach adopted where the cleaning up of the ash, no matter where it is, is a national concern and the primary responsibility lies with NEMO and BRAGSA and whoever else, in the state apparatus to get that done and to utilise as many of the local people as possible to get work in doing the cleanup,” he said.
“The partition in the cleanup of spaces in terms of private and public, to me, that is only going to make the clean up more haphazard and prolong the problem we are having now with ash in the air.”
The opposition leader referenced one of his recent trips to Georgetown, where he observed that while roadways and government buildings were cleaned, there was still quite a bit of ash in the houses and yards of residents there.
He noted that even though government spaces are clean, the ash at private homes can still be blown into those areas, making them dirty once again, hence the reason it cannot be treated like a “public/private” matter.
Residents of the orange hazard zone were given the green light in May to return home to various areas on the western and eastern side of the island.
Some have publicly expressed that they felt as though they were being forced out of the shelters.
Friday said this should not be the case.
“The important thing is to make sure people are safe, those in the red zone, and that when the time comes for them to return, that the clean-up is done, not while they are there, but before. That is the next thing…the health consequences of rushing to get back into the orange zone and the red zone without proper cleaning up can turn out to be a second disaster from this eruption. It has to be taken seriously…,” he said.
Friday said many are hoping that the volcano, which has not erupted explosively since April 22, has done its worst.
Until people are more confident that this is the case, the parliamentarian noted that support must continue to be provided for people who are still away from their homes so that they feel appreciated and supported in this time of crisis.