Tuesday 20 August, 2019

Short-term cow itch plans underway near Blackman and Gollop

The Blackman and Gollop Primary School Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) have been waiting for this day to come with bated breath after much pledges and failed promises to address the cow itch issue surrounding the school.

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A short-term action plan has been devised and will be implemented starting tomorrow to address the cow itch situation at Blackman and Gollop Primary School.

Playing what felt like a waiting game, when Minister Wilfred Abrahams on Wednesday gave his assurance that he will hold the Environment Minister to his promise of work from this weekend, the PTA President Lester King was unmoved. 

However, during discussions yesterday morning, Friday, February 15, 2019, at the Staple Grove, Christ Church school, Minister of Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod, and Acting Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Senator Lucille Moe, agreed that the cow itch situation needed an emergency response and work would be carried out to minimize the impact on the school.

Minister Prescod said:

“Saturday, February 16, at 9:00 a.m. work will be carried out to the eastern side of the school. What we have finally agreed on is that we would scrape the surface of the entire land. The arrangement is that we would not go below four inches of soil, so that we can remove all the seeds, the pods and plants in their entirety…

“And to dig a number of trenches away from the eastern side making sure the trenches are deep enough and place the material in those trenches, and then the trenches will be covered over by mould or whatever material we deem is necessary to make sure that we keep [the cow itch] material as far down as possible….”

Senator Moe, speaking about what would occur after completion of the work on Sunday evening, said:

“Once that work is completed, clearly the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training will ensure that the school and its environs are properly cleaned, because of course, our first priority is always to the children, the staff and the other workers at the Blackman and Gollop Primary School. 

“Now we know that this is not a long-term solution; it is certainly a solution for the short-term, but we can’t afford to have any more loss of school time, certainly not at this time of the year.”

Burning cow itch not an option

Noting that this was the most viable action plan at present, Minister Prescod stated that the suggestion of burning the cow itch, whether controlled or otherwise, was not advised by the Barbados Fire Service. According to Fire Officer, Earnle Fields:

“Burning is not a viable option simply because the seeds are not going to be displaced. They are going to drop to the ground and the whole cycle is going to return, so you will have new plants and the cycle remains. In addition, the wind factor from burning would scatter the irritants of the cow itch.”

A decision was also made to address the cow itch situation on a national scale and to seek to implement a long-term solution that is not harmful to people and the environment. Also participating in the discussions were Principal of the school, Petrona Holder; Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Dr. Romel Springer; officials from both ministries; the Barbados Fire Service; PTA President Lester King; owner of Staple Grove Plantation, Om Prakash; and Engineer Consultant, Abdul Pandor.

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