Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020
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Nasty, nasty, nasty

We have no natural resources, no oil, no natural gas and no bauxite!

What we lack in natural resources, we make up for in our incredible blessing of having some of the most beautiful waters and beaches on this planet.

From the space station hundreds of miles up in the skies, the Bahama islands are a sight to behold and the envy of the world as they glance at our beautiful, turquoise waters.

If those powerful cameras could zoom in from outer space, they would see what a mess we have made on these beautiful shores. Of all the various landscapes and countries around the world, Bahamians should count themselves extremely lucky to have been blessed with the birthright to call one of the most stunning places on the planet our home.

I have said this on many occasions.

Some of us don’t deserve the use of our beaches, I say this based on the disastrous state in which some Bahamians leave them with mounds of garbage and an obvious lack of remorse for the most grotesque form of environmental vandalism.

Rotary clubs over the last several weeks had their members out in full force cleaning up neighborhoods and beaches, collecting garbage and having it hauled away in vain.

Honestly, I must admit this is not my most favorite of community projects, as I feel that those living in the area should participate in the upkeep of their surroundings.

However, being a member of my Rotary club means working together for the common goal.
The last time I participated in a community clean up in the inner city I was completely turned off. It rattled me that while my fellow Rotarians were busy picking up waste, the residents of this community simply sat there while we worked tirelessly to remove their waste. Something was wrong with this picture: I come into your neighborhood to clean up your trash and you just sit and watch! This past weekend, my Rotary club partnered with Commonwealth Brewery to clean up Adelaide Beach. We were provided with rakes, bags, gloves and dumpsters. The organizers of this clean-up provided food and refreshments and an enthusiastic contingent of employees from the brewery.

I reluctantly got my garbage bags along with my young daughter and decided to assist, as I thought it would be a good lesson to instill in her the importance of taking care of our environment.

We were joined by the executives of the brewery and their children and, quite frankly, although these executives work with the brewery, as a Bahamian I could not help but feel shameful about how they were exposed to the filth and garbage that was on this beach.

It’s like me inviting guests to my home, and it’s filthy with garbage that has not been emptied and it smells awful. That is how I felt; it was truly embarrassing.

Can you imagine the stories they will tell when they go back to their country – how nasty they find our country?

Throughout our clean-up, we found masses of paper plates, cups, plastic, paper, soiled diapers, liquor bottles, condom wrappers and soda cans. To be quite frank, the garbage we picked up was shocking. I wondered how a civilized society can do this. And this scene is carried right through beaches and neighborhoods all through New Providence.

Although I did not see any stationary garbage receptacles, I do not believe this is an excuse to make the choice to litter. If you make a mess, clean it up when you leave!

In my opinion, the authorities should have garbage receptacles in stationary locations with a schedule in place to remove them as they reach capacity. Perhaps this will assist in deterring a major environmental tragedy of the commons.

The road traveled along West Bay Street from Gambier Village into town is perhaps the most picturesque drive in our city of Nassau. Every year we have tens of thousands of tourists that drive this same route back and forth to the airport. The amount of garbage that can be seen from a moving vehicle along the road is not only an eyesore but is a deep embarrassment, in addition to being a terrible first impression to visitors of our country. I drive this road several times from my home every day and it makes me angry how uncaring people can leave these beaches in such a deplorable state.

Perhaps the government ought to implement punitive action for those who are caught obnoxiously littering in public spaces and beaches. There are laws on the books, why in the heck don’t we enforce them? Measures such as a huge fine for littering should be in place in an effort to enforce the importance of citizens being accountable for the state of our environment. In Canada there are by-laws such as a failure to clean up after your pet! If your dog uses the parks or streets, it is your duty to make sure you clean it up; failure to do so can result in a hefty fine – up to $240.

In Singapore, dropping chewing gum on the streets runs you the risk of being flogged.
We need to start showing our people some tough love, in an effort to inspire real change in how we take care of our islands.

Litter is a big problem and needs to be addressed in a serious and a no-nonsense way.
The good Lord gave us such a beautiful country, let us take care of this prize.

Enough is enough!

• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, and two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association. William Wong is a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. E-mail: williamuwong@gmail.com.

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