BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (January 21, 2014) — He calls them street sweepers, but their admirers called them the unregistered troupe of the New Year’s Parade of Troupes. It was the troupe that brought up the rear during the parade, and with it, a magnanimous dose of healthy living.
While all the troupes assembled at Patsy Allers Play Field in readiness for the ‘trouping’ of their colours and agility of their bodies, the unregistered troupe assembled at the Dr William Connor Primary School.
They were wearing green polo shirts and some had sleeveless yellow reflective vests over the polo shirts. Led by their veteran supervisor Ms Veronica David all stood holding their tools of trade, and watched as the registered troupes streamed down Cayon Street in their full splendour. When the last troupe passed, they fell in line and followed them.
But while the other troupes were playing mas, this particular troupe had a special duty — picking up the slack, so to speak. They ensured that all the litter thrown on the road by the revellers was picked up, including a burst of confetti that had been unleashed into the air in the vicinity of the Tamarind Tree, but which eventually ended up landing on the road.
The troupe ensured that Basseterre was clean. Its overall boss is one happy and proud citizen of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, who acknowledges the work done by the hard working members of the troupe.
“We at Solid Waste Management Corporation, and I in particular, don’t want to be talking to people only when they do something wrong, and that is something I try to impress on my supervisors all the time,” said Mr Alphonso Bridgewater in an interview last week.
“Let we catch people doing things good and acknowledge it, recognise them, reward them. The cleaners you see on the streets during Christmas and Carnival and any massive event that we have are the vanguard people of the service we provide, waste management so to speak.”
Mr Bridgewater, who is the General Manager of the Solid Waste Management Corporation – SWMC (St. Kitts), was talking in reference to the superb work done by the cleaning team during the festive season.
“They are primarily women in the first instance,” he observed. “This season 2013/2014 we sought to deliberately interject some male force in it, for one to provide them with some security for the hours they are working early morning and late night sometimes, and plus they wanted some more muscle power.
“I myself marvel at the work they do. In some instances we start as early as 11 am and 8 pm we are still working, particularly on New Year’s Day and Last Lap Day. Those are the two heavy days where garbage is all over, and you are talking of the whole of Central Basseterre and the surrounding environs.”
He said that they work directly behind the parade, because the revellers and people who are looking on from Greenlands Park, the cemetery and lining the road have a habit to just using whatever they are eating, or drinking and throwing the container down.
Mr Bridgewater throws an impassioned plea to revellers to avoid throwing their garbage on the road, here noting that the corporation might in future provide the Carnival Committee with receptacles that could be used by the revellers.
“The workers were approximately a dozen of them,” said Mr Bridgewater of his troupe. “They had Ms Veronica David who has been the supervisor for some time. She is not a supervisor who just stays there and issues orders.
“She is very hands-on, she just doesn’t supervise; she gets in the thick of things and does the cleaning. You won’t, by looking at them, be able to tell who the supervisor is because she is in there with them. She does not only organise where they are going to start, what they are going to do, she gets in there and cleans as well.”
Here is a team that works when others are relaxing, on weekends and holidays. According to Mr Bridgewater, on Saturdays they are paid for a day and a half while on Sundays and on holidays they are paid twice the going rate.
Are the votes in? [With apologies to Mr Sylvester Anthony] The winner is… Veronica David’s SWMC Troupe!
Love St. Kitts and Nevis. Keep St. Kitts and Nevis sparkling clean. Do not litter.