Clean up your act
Published: Jul 30, 2013
After much public debate and some protests, we can finally say that the three most popular beaches on New Providence namely Saunders Beach, Goodman’s Bay and Montagu Beach have been developed to an acceptable level, with appropriate off-street parking, washroom facilities and even playgrounds.
Unfortunately, we seem to inevitably repeat the same mistakes; successive governments invest heavily in public infrastructure but the maintenance of the same seems to be an afterthought, as all these beaches continue to be strewn with litter, overflowing garbage bins and an abundance of refuse around the few bins that are available.
For too long, it has been suggested that we should keep our beaches clean for the tourists, and I admit to being dismayed as I witnessed taxi after taxi bring visitors to Saunders Beach this past Sunday, while visitors hopped over the garbage, towel in hand to have a quick dip in the water before heading back to their cruise ship.
Unless and until we begin to keep public spaces clean because we take pride in them, and want to enjoy them ourselves, very little will happen.
These three beaches are subject to a simple and easily corrected problem – there are insufficient facilities for garbage disposal and the collection of garbage needs to be more frequent. Sadly, the problem is not unique as McPherson Point, the beach that lies at the most eastern end of Prince Charles Drive, has simply no garbage bin to be found. There is the remains of a frame where a bin used to be and this is often surrounded by uncollected garbage.
While we wait for the authorities to get their act together because surely they see the garbage that is hiding in plain sight, each of us that frequent these beaches need to do our part – of course we can all call the Department of Environmental Health, but just as we carefully plan the menu that we are going to put together for our afternoon on the beach, surely we can plan to bring a few garbage bags to collect our trash and if we notice that the bins are full, we can take the garbage with us and dispose of it properly elsewhere.
Just so I am clear: disposing of garbage properly does not include throwing it in the nearest vacant lot or bush, throwing it in the vicinity of a trash bin or in an already full bin, or out the car window, and it is still not cool to throw empty beer bottles in the water.
The litter on the beach is just a reflection of our general lack of cleanliness. If your neighbor is too shy to tell you, let me be the first to inform you that the whole neighborhood is praying that you remove the derelict vehicle that has been sitting in your yard for years, that you would tear down the dilapidated building, and keep the bush down on that piece of property you bought a few years ago that is currently a haven for those with mal-intent, or better yet just simply clean your yard.
Do you clean your house only when you have guests over? Hopefully not – keeping our surroundings clean is a part of our heritage. It is who we are and it is what we do because we are simply proud to be Bahamian. Let’s get back to basics and begin taking care of our public spaces just as we take care of our homes not exclusively for the enjoyment of others but for ourselves.
• We would like to hear how this article has helped you. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sonia Brown is principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd. and is a registered professional engineer.