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Barbados needs a cultural change


FABIAN K. SIMPSON

Barbados needs a cultural change

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We have recently been witnessing an upsurge in the level of criminal activity here on our precious shores. I fear that this is just the beginning of an escalation of gun violence and other criminal activity as members of the so-called gangs enact revenge for the loss of one of their own.

The police, along with the Barbados Defence Force, need to swamp the known gangland neighbourhoods with some dawn raids, unannounced, probably when the miscreants are likely to be tucked up in bed, most likely with their harbourers. I would imagine that the police have the necessary procedures in place to be granted search warrants by magistrates.

In addition, there are too many laws on our statute books which go unenforced. One only has to look at the daily behaviour of the ZRs or minibuses to see evidence of the most appalling driving practices. Sadly, Barbados has become so used to the behaviour of these carriers that their practices have become almost acceptable and expected as we go about our daily routine.

The only evidence of the infringement of traffic laws is the regular ticketing of drivers who are not wearing their seat belts. Other infringements seem not to matter. Daily, we see evidence of ZR or minibus drivers stopping at regular intervals along their routes, whether or not these stops are at specified bus stops. Occasionally, drivers of these private service vehicles travelling in opposite directions will stop to greet each other and have a conversation for as much as five minutes. In rush hour, this behaviour, like all of their bad behaviour, adds to the frustration of innocent motorists.

Worse still is the practice of these PSV drivers stopping their vehicles to set down or collect passengers anywhere. In so doing, the drivers flag down moving traffic and invite the passenger to cross the busy road. This practice presents an ever-present danger to life and limb of the passenger and possibly other motorists and pedestrians.

The indiscriminate practices of garbage disposal, haphazardly, any place, is very annoying to me and most certainly any right-minded, caring and environmentally-aware citizen. Daily, we witness the dumping of items of used “white goods”, household refuse and the remnants of fast food containers in neighbourhoods, along main roads and most threateningly, in gullies and drains. The fallout from such careless practices is felt mainly in the areas where there is already poor, absent or very inadequate  drainage.

Treatment of persons with disabilities also leaves a lot to be desired. Our country has signed every international protocol which seeks to protect the rights of disabled persons. Take the car parking areas set aside by some businesses. Consequently, daily we witness the abuse of these areas. Often, too, there’s no wheelchair access to businesses, both public and private.

Then there is a culture of turning a blind eye to corruption, bribery and poor business practices. This blindfoldedness occurs in both the public and private sector. Read the annual reports of the Auditor General . . . . We shrug our shoulders and carry on as normal.

Poor customer service is another area of disconcert to all alert and business-minded Barbadians, visitors and our overseas clients . . . . In spite of the high subvention granted to NISE and the excellent training provided by that statutory body to public service departments, there is still much evidence of abysmally poor customer service, low output and minimal productivity . . . .

Barbados has come a long way since Independence Day in 1966. However, we seem to have taken too long a pause at mediocrity and are happy to rest just there, while the rest of the developing world cleans up, capitalises and moves forward, leaving us stuck in a mire of pens, carbon paper and big notebooks to write everything into.

If this is progress, then heaven help us all.

– FABIAN K. SIMPSON

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