EDITORIAL: Let’s show we’ve learned from the recession
IF THE ASSESSMENT of key stakeholders over the past six months or so is anything to go by, the Barbados economy is heading in the right direction, Christmas should be much brighter for many than it has been for quite a while, and when “prosperous New Year” wishes are offered this time around, they should not ring as hollow.
Many merchants in and outside of Bridgetown are reporting a pickup in business, hoteliers are confirming their occupancy numbers have risen and bookings for the winter season offer much hope. Generally there is a sense that we may be turning the corner.
And while no prudent person, politician or otherwise, should be so injudicious to suggest we are out of the economic woods, it is extremely important that even now at the national level, we don’t return to our wasteful ways of the past. We have heard repeated calls for the kind of structural makeover that would lead to greater efficiency, and we admonish Barbadians generally to adopt such an approach as we head into 2016.
We wholeheartedly support calls for Government to show it is prepared to do more than talk when it comes to ensuring that statutory corporations are reformed – and if reformation is not possible, then in some cases outright abandonment will have to be the option exercised. No matter how much our economy turns around, we cannot afford to waste resources as had been our habit for decades.
And it is within this vein that we invite Minister of Transport Michael Lashley and the Freundel Stuart Government generally to take a comprehensive look at the issue of traffic management in Barbados. It has now become a frustrating feature of our country that morning rush hour, which used to end before the school bell rang, now continues until almost lunch time – and that the evening rush hour can last from the moment children are released from school until after sunset.
On afternoons traffic lines on Spring Garden Highway can stretch from the Frank Worrell Roundabout to Exmouth Gap, virtually the length of the highway. Additionally, after spending tens of millions of dollars to widen approaches to roundabouts on the ABC Highway because it opposed the construction of flyovers, the Government must now admit that the highway is just one continuous bottleneck for several hours each day.
We are reasonably sure that many of the commercial entities in Barbados would agree that the length of time their employees, equipment and materials sit in traffic each day hurts their bottom line significantly. And it certainly can’t contribute to national productivity when so many of our workers spend hours each day battling public transport on journeys that should take mere minutes.
It is time for a comprehensive look at our traffic flow patterns to see where we need to construct new roads, to admit that we need to take traffic over roundabouts and not on more lanes through them that back up for miles, and to honestly tell ourselves that the $50 million Greater Warrens Road Improvement Project has not improved very much so far.
If the sacrifices that so many have been called on to make during the recession are to mean anything, then we can’t operate in the post-recession period as though we have learnt nothing. Let’s start by attacking this very crippling traffic blight on national productivity.