*Photo by Nicola Muirhead. Bermuda’s difficulties with the way it deals with sewage, particularly sewage pumped out to sea by the Corporation of Hamilton, have been going on for decades.
*Photo by Nicola Muirhead. Bermuda’s difficulties with the way it deals with sewage, particularly sewage pumped out to sea by the Corporation of Hamilton, have been going on for decades.

Shadow Health Minister Zane De Silva has been criticizing the One Bermuda Alliance government for its response to the problem Bermuda has with sewage outfall greaseballs washing up on the beaches.

“Today,” he said, “the OBA’s version of the truth has been blown out of the water and now our people, beaches, our sea life and our tourism economy are paying the price for their lies and inaction.”

The OBA responded to his criticism in a statement which read, in part: “In fact and in truth, our sewage problem has been known about for years. If Mr De Silva and his colleagues had been so concerned about it, they could easily have done something to fix the problem during the 13 years they spent in government.”

When that was put to Mr De Silva a few days ago, he said the issue had never arisen while he was Minister of Health.  

“All I can say is that during my time as Minister, it was never brought to my attention,” said Mr De Silva.

Can the former Health Minister possibly profess ignorance of one of Bermuda’s major health and environmental problem after having spent three years as a Cabinet Minister, two of them as Minister of Health? 

Not on your life! 

Bermuda’s difficulties with the way it deals with sewage, particularly sewage pumped out to sea by the Corporation of Hamilton, have been going on for decades.  

In this millennium, there have been at least three previous occasions in which sewage washing up on our beaches has hit the headlines, in 2002 and in 2010. 

In 2009, Mr De Silva was given responsibility for municipal reform. Then Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling wrote to him, asking to be able to meet to discuss key issues, particularly the proposed waterfront development and how the ageing sewerage system was to be maintained in the wake of the Government removing its right to collect revenue from wharfage and ports fees. 

Mr Gosling’s letter, and complaints about Mr De Silva’s reluctance to meet him, were published on the front page of the Royal Gazette at the time.

More than one committee was formed to deal with sewage as a threat to marine life and the reefs, and to explore with the Corporation of Hamilton how to improve its ageing system.  

In every case, representatives of the Health Department would have taken a leading role, and would undoubtedly have reported on progress to the Minister and his Permanent Secretary.  

That is standard civil service operating procedure.   

Mr De Silva, as Minister of Health, was in charge of planning for the new Hospital, and in charge of a major upgrade of the infrastructure of the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute.  In both cases, dealing with sewage was a major issue. 

You don’t have to be a political genius to know that the Cabinet discusses all Bermuda’s current problems at its meetings, whether formally or informally.  

It would not have been possible for Mr De Silva to sit around the Cabinet table for three years and not have heard and taken part in a discussion about sewage.

So really, whose version of the truth has been blown out of the water?  Whose inaction is really at play here?

Mr De Silva is evading his own responsibility, in order to be able to take cheap political advantage of a situation in which, truthfully, all of Bermuda plays a part. What a shame he can’t man up a little! n

Jeanne Atherden, JP, MP, One Bermuda Alliance, is the representative for Pembroke West.