Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Are we really ready to "face it - fix it" in Bim?
Well, well. It seems that there's never a dull moment in Barbados. Between the ongoing BS&T saga, the squatting situation and now the NCF being relieved of its duties as producer of Crop Over, there's no lack of news to talk about.
In terms of the NCF saga, what paticularly peaked my interest was a comment attributed to Prime Minister Owen Arthur, in which he was reported as encouraging participants at a Crop Over stakeholders meeting to use the "face it - fix it" approach as they set about the task of identifying the problems facing the cultural industries and looked for solutions.
That sounds lovely in theory, but the cynic in me says that it would never work in Barbados because for too long we've been accustomed to burying our heads in the sand and pretending all is well. Years ago calypsonian John King sang about living in a "fool's paradise", and boy we're just living la vida loca around here. Then again, these days it seems that as long as political will commands it mountains will be moved, so I won't throw cold water on a face it - fix it approach. Let's see how we can put it to work, shall we?
1. The NCF - Is a new private/public entity to handle Crop Over really going to work? Isn't the "politicising" and "friendsing" going on at the NCF part of the reason why they can't seem to get things right over there? Since these two variables are rampant in Barbados now it's only a matter of time before Crop Over's back in the same mess again. Wouldn't the problem be better fixed by doing some spring cleaning at the NCF? And I don't mean of old files.
2. Squatting - After witnessing Jamaica's battle with squatting I was hoping it would never occur here, but it's here, people. Socio economic reasons apart, we know they're some people who ain't looking to buy a piece of land if they can drop a house on a seemingly available lot. Added to that, there're stories of illegal immigrants moving into abandoned properties all over the island. We better face it fast and as for fixing it, for starters the PM should tell his Ministers to stop encouraging people to squat and build illegal extensions on to housing units....
3. The QEH - Wuhloss, where to start? In my opinion a summary of the situation is that there're some good people there doing a hard job under conditions that are less than ideal. No one seems to want to really face what's happening there so how can we fix it? All I know is that certain people must be profiting from the current state of affairs there....
4. The state of the roads - Are the private contractors who reconstruct/pave our roads really worth the pay cheques they're getting? Why are potholes appearing after a heavy rainfall? Why are more and more private contractors doing the jobs previously performed by Government? Are Government workers doing a bad job or does Government just feel like supporting the private sector?
5. Illegal Vending/PSV operators/illegal parking. Why can't these areas be properly regularised? If the policy is for no vending to be allowed in certain areas of the City, why are vendors allowed to set up shop for a few months and then one day out of the blue the Police swoops down on them? The same Police pass the vendors day in and out and never do anything. I know vendors need to make a living but what's the point of making laws if they're not being enforced?
As far as I know PSV operators are to wear uniforms, remove heavy tints from the vehicles and turn off the loud music. So, why am I seeing/hearing these operators flauting the law every day? Why can't we make the owners of these vehicles share the responsibility for the misdeeds of their workers?
Like the vendors, illegally parked cars can sit in the City day in and out with nary a ticket. Then one day out of the blue, a policeman will ticket the entire street. When these rules aren't enforced they create bad habits.
There're more issues we need to face and fix but I'm gonna stop there before I depress myself. I'm just weary of those in authority dancing all around a problem, throwing more money at an issue or creating a new board/entity when, more often than not, the solution is so simple. Maybe one day we'll get it right.
Photo: Winston Agard, a squatter at Rock Hall, St. Philip, pleads for assistance from PM Arthur