No, not George W!! We are referring to statements made last weekend by the new Minster of health, the Hon. Donville Inniss, who warned landowners that the Ministry was going to get tough on those allow their lands to get overgrown with grass and bush.
Unable to see around this sweeping corner
An excellent hiding placed for prowlers
The current modus operandi, is that government will determine spots that need to be cleaned, charge 7 cents a square foot (according to the Minster) and then add the final charge on to the land tax.
We am not sure how well this system works, but believe that the land tax billing allows too much time to pass before government can recover their funds. As we well know, land tax can remain unpaid for a number of years without any repercussions. This means that the government must pay the subcontractors who clean the land, and then possibly go for 5 years or more before the payments are collected.
While there are some landowners who attempt to keep their lands clean, their are many, particularly the absentee owners, who don’t look back. Some of them may not even remember where their plot of land is located.
So we are residents in the neighbourhoods, suffer in many:
• We have to put up with the mosquitoes and rodents that breed in the bushes
• Some are afraid to walk at night or keep their windows and doors open past a certain time for fear of prowlers hiding undercover of the overgrowth.
• Some unscrupulous persons use these overgrown lots as their personal trash bins
• During the dry season, these lots can be extremely dangerous if burnt
• In some areas driving becomes hazardous, as you are unable to see pedestrians especially children who may be walking or riding around the neighbourhood
• In frustration, neighbours pull their own pockets to have spots cleaned for peace of mind
• As taxpayers, we end up paying through the Ministry of Health to have lots cleaned
If government cleans up spots, they need to collect their monies quickly, and as such should place this portfolio under a statuary board, the National Conservation Commission and Sanitation Service Authority come to mind, which should already have processes for month billing. Once lots are cleaned, the owners are billed immediately, and non-payment means that the lands can be ceased by the government until full payment has been received.
We need to take the health of the island seriously, and while we need foliage to supply balance in the environment, overgrown lots are a more of a nuisance and health risk than a benefit.
Government also needs to take a serious look at how the road weeding program works (or doesn’t). How is it that after over 30 years (as far as we can remember), there is no coordination between the weeding and the collection of the weed grass? Grass sits for weeks and sometimes months before it is collected. And most of those cases, acts as a rich compost heap for new weeds, or washes down into the drains during a downpour causing blockages.
Maybe the new Ministry of Drainage will place this on his radar.
Cases in point in Maxwell Hill