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A failure to consult

Michael Franco

A failure to consult

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I have a few questions for the organisers of the launch of celebrations for Barbados’ 50th anniversary of Independence held last Wednesday.

Was any consideration given to the impact that the road restrictions and closures would have on businesses in the immediate and surrounding areas of Independence Square? It is of no surprise to me that there was no consultation with the stakeholders in the area. No consultation seems to be the modus operandi of choice these days.

One Mr Lennox Richards, a taxi driver, was quoted in another section of the Press as saying that no consultation was held with the 20-plus taxi drivers that ply their trade at Independence Square. “No, they just make the changes. When they have a meeting, they does talk to us, and tell us, ‘Well, y’all have to move at a certain time, because we have to move from here from midday today (5th)’; they have to put up tents.” No consideration given to the resulting loss of income for these individuals.

What is the significance of January 6 (a Wednesday) to our Independence or the celebration thereof? Surely hosting this event on a Sunday would have been a more logical decision. Better yet, why not have the launch on January 21, a public holiday, and the day on which we celebrate The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, the father of Independence? Now that is logical. Either of the foregoing options would have had little or no impact, not only on the businesses on Lower Bay Street, Independence Square and Bridgetown, but also on members of the public making their way into The City from the South Coast.

Why would the closure of two of the three lanes between the end of Lower Bay Street and the traffic lights at Probyn Street/Fairchild Street intersection from the Tuesday be considered a good idea? The ensuing traffic jam was chaos. Did anyone think that putting the traffic lights on blink mode would have alleviated some of the congestion coming from Lower Bay Street? Obviously not, as traffic became immediately snarled as soon as one vehicle wanting to go straight to Fairchild Street got to the lights, thereby blocking all other traffic wanting to go left over Bridge Street. The traffic was backed up to the Boatyard at one point, and journeying from Platinum Motors (Honda) to the corner of Independence Square took a staggering 25 minutes.

To The Ministry of Education: Was the opening of the new school term on Tuesday, January 5 and the subsequent closure on Wednesday to facilitate the launch seriously considered to be a good idea? Was there any consultation, internally or otherwise, that resulted in a unanimous “yes” to such an asinine decision? Was any consideration given to the fact that the volume of traffic on the roads on the 5th, including around (a two-thirds blocked) Independence Square, with school open would only exacerbate the traffic situation? 

To the powers that be, while I am certain that the actual event was a resounding success, as far as the logistics and organisation of the event goes, you have failed miserably. I would humbly suggest that consultations, considerations and common sense be at the forefront of any future event planning that has the potential to impact not only members of the business community, but also members of the public.

Happy 50th, Barbados!

– Michael Franco