Do more to make it safer
TODAY BARBADOS REMEMBERS that very tragic incident in Tudor Street, The City, four years ago when six young women lost their lives at a boutique which was firebombed during a robbery attempt. One lesson from that incident was the need to make business places safer.
There is little evidence to suggest that following the public concerns for greater public safety at many of the business establishments across Barbados, that much has been done. As we say in Barbadian parlance, there was a lot of hot air with little or no action.
This clearly highlights the deficiencies in our regulatory systems and how public pleas can be easily overlooked. It also points to the need for high-profile support for this cause until the corrective measures are undertaken.
The calls for there to be better physical conditions at many Bridgetown business places may have been ignored because they have been spearheaded by political activist David Comissiong. We must not confuse the messenger with the message.
The excuse that to ensure there are clearly marked and operational entrances as well as emergency exits would be too costly an undertaking, is unacceptable. This portrays a sense of profits before people.
It raises the reasonable question as to the role of the property insurers and whether they undertake inspections of the buildings for which they offer cover, or are merely interested in obtaining the premium. Certainly, risk assessors and valuers should be inspecting these properties to determine their true status.
The role of the Barbados Fire Service, the Department of Emergency Management and other Government agencies with responsibility for this aspect of public safety also comes into question. It would be interesting to hear from our fire officials how many of these businesses undertake annual emergency drills and whether their staff are given any training on what to do in case of emergency.
This situation also highlights the urgent need for a functioning national building code which carries stiff penalties for breaches of the regulations. A walk across Bridgetown and into many of its stores will highlight numerous problems which impact the safety of both the internal and external customer. This should not be so after the horrific Campus Trendz incident.
We must not be reduced to a situation of post-fact activities when there is a parade of officials from various Government departments and agencies turning up, walking around and looking busy. The action must come before another tragedy by seeking out and highlighting the weaknesses and more importantly, ensuring the corrective actions are implemented. The public expects that any public place of business they enter to do business should be safe and secure.
Those innocent young lives lost four years ago should not be all in vain. Let us honour their memories by showing through our deeds that we have learnt valuable lessons from the tragedy. We must not appear to have simply moved on.