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We don’t like it so

Peter Simmons

We don’t like it so

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One of the outstanding failures of the present Government of Barbados has been its recurrent poor communications with the population.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised when in the Press leading up to last weekend there was a half-page advertisement under the large caption Road Closed For Tree Removal. It was put out by the Ministry of Transport and Works’ Information Unit.
Embellished by a graphic illustrating the affected area and alternative routes, it said the ministry would be removing one large tree in Welches, Christ Church, on Saturday, August 11, and Sunday, August 12.
“As a result, the road will be closed to through traffic from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.”
I left Oistins at 12:30 p.m. to beat the closure and was shocked reaching the entrance to Southern Plaza at 12:32 to see the road blocked and a diversion sign. I asked a gentleman manning the sign how come the road was blocked already when the Press said the blockage would begin at 1 p.m.?
He said “bad weather is expected, so they decided to start a little earlier”. We diverted, drove to Top Rock and doubled back to Maxwell to collect my Saturday pudding ’n’ souse.
If a ministry goes to the trouble and expense to buy advertising space to alert the population of an upcoming inconvenience, then one would dare to hope that it would keep its side of the bargain by sticking to the time stipulated and not vary it without any notice alerting the public.
I continue to be amazed by the severe constraints allegations of “bad weather” imposed on Barbadians.
I was shocked speechless to hear at ten o’clock bright and sunny Saturday morning that racing at the Garrison, featuring the Barbados Derby, was postponed because of anticipated “bad weather”. Unsurprisingly, it never materialized.
Anyone with a layman’s familiarity with weather patterns in our region would have known that the rapidly falling apart system was not only moving into an area which was not conducive to its development, but all meteorologists on the major Miami-based TV networks were predicting since Friday evening that it would pass north of Barbados.
Yet at ten o’clock Saturday morning, the Turf Club’s stewards postponed racing and enjoyed an afternoon and early evening disturbed only by a few passing showers which did not interrupt the cricket programme. I pity those in the food preparation business who would have put things in place to feed the bumper crowd.
This time of the year we are in the hurricane season and it is understandable that the antennae of Barbadians are raised to follow the weather news closely. Fortunately, there are a number of early warning systems. Through our own Meteorological Service, Miami-based TV stations and the Internet, it is easy to track what is coming across the Atlantic.
While appreciating that it is better to be safe than sorry, one would hope that on a major race day anticipated with great expectations by thousands, all available sources of reliable information would be utilized before a decision is taken to abandon races and have the sun mock the decision all Saturday afternoon.
On Friday morning there was a brief break in the electricity supplied by Barbados Light & Power. When my wife turned on MCTV at one o’clock to watch Days Of Our Lives on Channel 706, there was a large sign in red reading Input 2. You can imagine her deep disappointment and distress. We thought it was triggered by the power outage.
My help was summoned. I did all of the things I am accustomed to doing when my MCTV service is disrupted. Nothing worked and I was left with no alternative but to call the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for help. I called at 1:05 p.m.
I was greeted by a polite recorded voice saying: “Thank you for waiting. Your call should be answered within approximately three to five minutes based upon the number of calls.”
At 1:35 p.m. – that’s right, after waiting 30 minutes – I hung up annoyed and frustrated. I called again at 1:45 and heard the same thing. After ten minutes I hung up.
I understand that there may have been a high number of calls. But why ask me to wait three to five minutes and after 30 minutes my call still remains unanswered? I was not pleased to be grossly misled by MCTV twice in one day. This is disgustingly poor customer service, reflecting poorly on the state corporation.
I have received good service previously and expect this to be maintained at all times. After all, I pay for it. But when I am wilfully misled I will say I don’t like it so and implore MCTV not to mislead me and waste my time.
• Peter Simmons, a social scientist, is a former diplomat. Email [email protected]