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IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Retain airport’s ‘wow’ appeal

Roy R. Morris

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Retain airport’s ‘wow’ appeal

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Last week, authorities updated the country on plans for the installation of jet bridges at Grantley Adams International Airport, noting that designs to facilitate alterations to the existing structure were being worked on.

Not long after, we published a “Letter to the Editor” from E. Jerome Davis stating he does not support the addition of these jet bridges. He noted that 95 per cent of the time passengers are able to board and disembark from planes with no interruptions from rain.

Using portable steps, as opposed to jet bridges, is seen by some as backward and while rain may not be an everyday problem, passengers who are stuck on board a plane because of heavy showers will feel inconvenienced. Also, those steps can be slippery when wet and are almost always a challenge for children and the elderly.

Additionally, with jet bridges already in place at Piarco in Trinidad, Norman Manley and Sangster in Jamaica, and Lynden Pindling International in Nassau, and now going in at VC Bird Airport in Antigua and at the new Argyle airport in St Vincent, some will tend to see Grantley Adams as running at the back of the pack.

My view is we need to upgrade the airport, but not to install those “tunnels” that pass for jet bridges wherever you turn.

There is no reason why our creative architectural and engineering minds can’t produce a design that still exposes our visitors to the sunshine they crave the moment they step off the plane, and to do so in an environment that meets international safety standards.

Grantley Adams International is an imposing, inviting terminal and we have another chance to show the rest of the world we don’t design boxes and tunnels like our neighbours; we build with a high “wow” factor.

Hats off to QEH staff, management:

There is no doubt that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) needs help. There is also no doubt that for all its advances, Barbadians generally don’t feel as comfortable dealing with that institution as they did in previous years.

Additionally, there is general agreement that QEH does not hold the pride of place as a Caribbean health facility it once did. Every day we hear the negative stories, and every day members of my profession write about them.

But this week I had reason to visit the hospital to see a dear friend who fell ill last weekend and I must confess I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. It had been quite a few years since my last visit and I found the lobby quite warm and inviting – and visitors were being greeted as they arrived.

Then I climbed the stairs to the “C” floor and walked the long corridor to Ward C10 and again was pleasantly surprised by the neat and well-kept surroundings.

 In fact, I could not help but notice that there were no missing ceiling tiles, boarded up elevator shafts or loosely hanging cables that were so common in the past.

However, it was in the ward that I really had to tip my hat to the institution’s administration. It could have passed for any modern hospital ward in any metropolitan city – there was no overcrowding, broken beds or anything of the sort. There was not one broken window and the metal screens to prevent anyone from falling or jumping were actually decorative enough as not to be obtrusive.

I entered and greeted the four nurses at the station beside the door and each one responded pleasantly on Sunday and Monday. The “service” staff who collected empty food containers and trays after meals were interacting in a warm and friendly way with patients and visitors.

There may be a shortage of drugs and supplies at the hospital and God knows an overhaul is badly needed in the Accident & Emergency Department, but clearly there are some positive things occurring at Martindale’s Road for which the administration and staff should be recognised.

Ladies and gentlemen, today I tip my hat to you all.

All hail CP:

I am a “CP boy” to the core. No Combermerian past or present can love his or her school more than I do mine. No one cries down the “beacon on the hill” in St Peter in my presence without a strong – even caustic – reaction from me. And I never miss an opportunity to support  my alma mater.

But my loyalty is not blind. Coleridge and Parry is no monastery educating would-be saints. Too many of the students are what CP old scholar and former principal at Ellerslie Secondary, Douglas Corbin, would call “wuffless” – and that is not a sexual term.

That’s why I offer full support to principal Vincent Fergusson for the comments he made at speech day last week when he said there were too many students at the school with a marijuana problem. It is a matter that has to be addressed with urgency, and I hold the view that in this society if we do not highlight challenges, they seldom get noticed.

Agencies with the wherewithal and organisations like the PTA and Alumni Association must get involved, and the state must too, because while the CP principal might have spoken about his school, we are 100 per cent sure the issues impact on every secondary school in the island.

By the way, surroundings can often influence one’s sense of pride and how one acts in a particular environment. Sadly, my beloved CP, derisively referred to by detractors as “Cow Pen”, has looked like just that for far too long. It is a picture of physical neglect and deterioration – a campus that does not inspire, and the students and teachers have my sympathies.

The folks at the Elsie Payne Complex really need to take note and do something; but every Barbadian, near and far, who had the benefit of the CP education, really does need to stand up and come to the aid of this institution. Speaking affectionately about how great your time at CP was does not paint walls, fix roofs, repair windows, provide whole chairs and desks, or keep the old Dover Fort in immaculate condition. You have to act.