The first step in making Bartica a green town is dealing with the solid waste problem that has always plagued the community, according to Deputy Mayor Kamal Persaud.
“We can’t keep taking the old habits along with us and the solid waste management is one of the major concerns, especially for me and the council,” Persaud told Stabroek News on Sunday.
She explained that since the new council has assumed office, it has been intensifying the cleanup around the town in order to make the town more “green.”
“I have visited areas around the shoreline where there are large amounts of debris lying all around and persons continue to dump as well. In one instance, I have photographs of persons dumping over the stelling from a big company in Bartica and all of that garbage ends up all around the place and its costing millions to pick it up back,” Persaud said. She noted that she had contacted the manager of the company and brought the issue up with him. The manager had apologised and assured her that it would not happen again and Persaud declared that if it were to happen again she would involve the law enforcement. “Littering is still against the law but it’s the application of it that is not seen and that’s where we are going to start. Because time and time again we think it’s the smaller persons who don’t care and big companies, who would be aware of the detriments [of littering]… to have such a big company do it was surprising to me,” she added.
Persaud explained that the ordinary people of Bartica contribute largely to the pollution problem and as a result the Council has started to educate the citizenry via meetings on pollution. “We have been educating and continually addressing the situation and educating residents on healthier practices and better waste management control and habits in terms of dumping,” she said.
While it is against the law to litter, Persaud stated that as far as she can remember no one has ever faced the law for littering and she said enforcement will send a strong message that it is wrong and that it has to stop.
Since getting into office and ensuring the cleanup campaign remains ongoing, Persaud said that there has been a major difference, especially after events. While there would usually be large amounts of garbage left after events, there has been a significant drop in the amount left behind and she credited such a change to the education of the citizenry and the increase in disposal bins that have been placed around the town. “Since from the IMC (Interim Management Committee) in November we received quite a few bins and also trucks, so we have been able to see a difference and we want to continue on that same paths,” she said.
In terms of the next step in greening Bartica, Persaud explained that the Council has started educating persons on the benefits of having solar panels and other alternative energy sources.
However, she explained that the availability and cost of alternative energy sources are issues. In reference to solar panels, she explained that it is difficult to acquire them as they are not readily available in or around the town and the prices are not adequate enough for the ordinary man’s budget. “…But long term, it’s going to save the environment and also save money and we’ve started targeting the bigger companies first to make the switch because they can financially do it,” she said.
Persaud noted that while they have not had any assurances, they have received positive feedback from the companies. She hopes that they will be able to get systems in place to make solar panels more affordable and available.
“Personally I can’t name many places that you can go to and pick up a solar panel and that would be an important aspect. If you’re going to tell persons to move away to solar then how do we get the solar panels? Where? And if it’s not available to them to even learn about how it works, they won’t have that interest,” she said. Persaud explained that a major kick-start to the changing over to green energy will be when they start to change the government buildings and explained that they have plans on changing the current Town Council building. “We are going to get there and when we start by government building doing it, you know Guyanese have a culture of seeing things and then you get a ripple effect,” she highlighted.
In addition to solar energy, Persaud said that there are currently feasibility studies being conducted on wind energy and because of the location of Bartica, hydropower will play an important role. “We have the Tiperu Falls located in Bartica and the falls used to [generate] hydropower for the old quarry, albeit on a small scale, but we have a lot of waterfalls,” she said, highlighting that the business community will be heavily depended on in the journey to make the town a model town for the government’s green economy.