Enough with the promises!
What do constituents across Barbados want from their prospective candidates? And what are some of the issues they want them to address in the coming General Election?
This series asks residents to prioritise what they believe to be the most important issues leading to the election.
Today, the focus is on St Michael South Central.
A lot of people in St Michael South Central are tired of being promised change and not getting it.
Instead, they want solutions to the myriad of problems facing young people, a lack of programmes for people who have lost their jobs, a cleaner environment devoid of garbage, and transparency in Government.
A better economy would help too.
From Martindale’s Road to Belmont Road, over to Tweedside Road and across to Hindsbury Road and near Bank Hall, Barbadians preparing to vote in the next election had their say on the issues they feel should be placed on the country’s front burner.
In the close-knit community of Stevenson Road near the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, youngsters in the area said they kept away from crime, created their own positive spirit, and tried their best to keep the area clean.
“This area has been neglected for a long time,” a peeved Rolly Blunt told the Sunday Sun. “Employment for young people out here is seriously needed. Thank God the youngsters out here are not interested in crime. They haven’t seen a job, but lots of jobs have been promised.”
“The simple truth is that representation is lacking. But this is a close community where young and old work together. Politicians feel they can appear once a year now that elections are close. But you can’t expect young people to feel you are serious if you don’t turn up for seven years, then suddenly show your face.”
Blunt said the young people of Barbados would have a serious say in the upcoming election. “They want to be heard and taken seriously,” he added.
Former national footballer Tyrone Wilkie, a lifelong resident of the constituency, said he was tired of seeing talent fall by the wayside.
“It’s time for Government to provide our young people with a Centre of Excellence, spanning the sports and cultural sectors. There is so much young talent in Barbados that needs to be harnessed. Our young people need our support. Every child out there can’t get a scholarship, and many parents can’t afford to send their children to an overseas university. These young people are the ones who will develop Barbados,” Wilkie added.
He said a concern of his was the nasty state of Barbados, which needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. “I have friends who came here and can’t believe how nasty it is. We’ve always been known as a paradise, but that is under threat. We need to be in a position to keep our country clean.”
Sitting on the Shillingford Square near Belmont Road with friends, Rico Brancker expressed shock at how young people in Barbados are being left behind by the powers that be. “The young people feel like the Government has deserted them. The cost of living is high, no money is circulating, and it’s almost impossible to get a job. Young people are tired of being promised ways forward.”
Over in Grosvenor Road just outside Carrington Village, pensioner Douglas Johnson echoed Brancker’s comments. “I talk to the young people in this constituency. They feel people are tricking them. That has to stop. We need transparent politics in Barbados.”
Johnson said that as a supporter of the island’s first Prime Minister, Errol Walton Barrow, he was disappointed with the modus operandi of persons seeking office in modern times. “Errol Barrow always said that when you get into politics take care of your people because they will want to see you. Now elections are in the air this is the first time I’m seeing them. Where were they all the time?” he asked.
The pensioner noted that Tweedside Road and Carrington Village proper are filled with older Barbadians, most of whom believe the elderly are a forgotten people.
“Poor people suffering, and elderly people suffering even more. They have nothing in their pockets to spend, are being treated badly, and feel left out,” he said.
A kilometre away on Tweedside Road, Peter Roach said the first thing that needs fixing in Barbados is the economy. “If we don’t find a way to fix that first, then we are wasting time. If the economy isn’t stable, the country isn’t stable, and things will stagnate.”
Roach said he was tired of the Government’s inability to maintain Barbados roads. “The roads are mashing up cars in Barbados every day, and what makes it worse is that insurance companies are carrying up premiums. You can’t deal with both if you haven’t had a salary increase in almost ten years,” he suggested.
He also had a suggestion for how to improve the country’s transportation woes. “I don’t mind the Government overseeing the Transport Board, but I believe a private company should be responsible for the day-to-day running of transport. The politics needs to be taken out of transportation and sanitation too.”
In Hindsbury Road, Richard Nash said a new Government should concentrate on realigning the country’s education system and find more ways to employ poor people.
‘We have to concentrate on educating our young people in a special way. They are the ones that will be responsible for the development of Barbados in the next 20 years. We have to educate them so they can develop Barbados as a country people want to invest in.”
Nash, who has been on the breadline for the past two years, said young people also need more opportunities, but, more important, Government needs to be transparent and devoid of any corruption.
“A lot of Barbadians feel the politicians of today are greedy. They see politicians giving themselves back their money for salary, but other civil servants not being given a raise. Politicians need to realise poor people see these things.”
In School Gap, outside the Clyde Gollop Homeless Centre, Vincent Forde, in his 30s, said Government should overhaul its housing policy, and find a better way for low-income workers to get affordable housing. “I don’t have a place to live, but I would like the chance.”
Forde said that when the recession started around 2006 things were tough, and then around 2008 a wave of politicians said things would turn around for the positive, but he was still waiting to see that materialise. (BA)