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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Make 2016 special


Dr Frances Chandler, [email protected]

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Make 2016 special

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WITH ALL WE’VE endured for the last few years, much of which has “come to a head” recently, I couldn’t help but cast my mind back to last February when our Prime Minister spoke to Barbadians in New York. They were reportedly anxious to hear about Barbados’ economy, Queen’s Elizabeth Hospital problems, possibility of a currency devaluation, the frequent and sometimes fatal shootings, and Government’s inability to pay some of its debts. Well, they must’ve been bitterly disappointed.

In true distraction mode, the PM was reported as saying: “Contrary to what you may read or all that you may hear, Barbados is still 166 square miles. It is still the most easterly country in the Caribbean. Children are still going to school. Buses are still running . . . and all of the dynamics of everyday life are still intact”.

Yes, PM. Children are going to school – but amidst continuous confusion with teachers. Yes, the buses are still running, but how? And PM, can you seriously state that all of the dynamics of everyday life were intact then and are intact now?

Thankfully, his speech at the Independence bash was more inspiring. He urged Barbadians at home and abroad to recommit themselves to the development of this nation. . . “ We want to make Barbados the best country on earth and it is within our capacity to do so . . . . Our size is no determinant of the kind of impact we can make on the global environment. So let us look backward, let us look inward, let us look forward and let us look upward . . . You are citizens of a great country. . . .”

To achieve this, Government, the private sector and all individuals must work together. But how do we get across this message? After hearing one caller to a radio programme say something to the effect that the water in Barbados belongs to Barbadians, so we can do as we please with it, I have serious doubts about getting all Barbadians “on one page”. It’s amazing how the two essentials for life, water and food, are taken for granted!

Problems can more easily be solved if they’re broken down into smaller parts. Each of us needs to take some responsibility for ourselves and the space around us. Despite the Sanitation Service Authority’s problems, I don’t understand how some people can create so much garbage. Seems that the smaller the house, the larger the number of garbage bags by the roadside.

As regards water, the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) must accept its responsibility, but we as citizens have a responsibility too. It’s difficult to understand how so many “ordinary citizens” have such large water bills (apart from arrears). Maybe BWA should issue guidelines as to what is a reasonable amount of water usage and a reasonable bill for families of various sizes.

Although we shouldn’t have to be prodded to clean up our country, two methods are normally used to achieve a goal – a “carrot” or a “stick”. Sticks are almost extinct, so we should give the carrot a try.

Government could use some of the money intended for the Independence “fetes” to sponsor “community pride competitions” with prizes for individuals and for communities as a whole.

Last week, the Barbados Horticultural Society promoted its annual flower show on Morning Barbados and the idea of a Take Pride In Barbados, Plant Barbados Pride campaign was suggested. What a great idea!

Best of Barbados has produced very attractive “Pride of Barbados” memorabilia. More of this needs to be done. Let’s continue airing the nationalistic Bajan music throughout the year. The commemorative issue of stamps is also to be commended and of course it’s fitting that our only living National Hero’s birthday should be recognised.

Togetherness rather than divisiveness will achieve what the Prime Minister envisages. Our celebrations must be meaningful rather than extravagant and costly. Can’t we repeat the human chain around Barbados which was done some years ago? After the Broken Trident has passed through all the parishes, can’t it be passed along this human chain on Independence Day?

This “iconic” event should cost Government no more than some security. The route could be delineated and each parish ambassador be responsible for supplying people for a certain portion of it. In addition, each parish should be encouraged to organize an event commemorating our jubilee – and I don’t mean a “wuk up” event costing a fortune!

Let’s make 2016 a year to remember without squandering money!

Dr Frances Chandler is a former Independent senator. Email:[email protected]

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