Just last week we wrote in this space about the importance of the radio call-in programme to the preservation of our democracy, and the fact that to many of our citizens it is their only avenue for venting on some of the ills of our society.
Today, on the Voice of Barbados’ Brass Tacks programme, there was one such caller who provoked many listeners with her expressions of dissatisfaction with a number of ways in which we tend to conduct ourselves and our business.
We wish to comment on one aspect of the caller’s concerns, namely the absolutely disgusting — our characterisation — state of affairs with many of the shops which operate around the Fairchild Street bus terminal.
We recall that when this facility was opened many years ago when MP Vic Johnson was Minister of Transport and Works, there was much chest thumping about how they would provide opportunities for “the small man” to benefit from the trade provided by thousands of bus commuters daily.
Well, we have come a long way since then, because these shops are a far cry from what was envisaged and many of the commuters they were designed to serve now avoid them like the plague. Daily, but particularly on Friday evenings, the sidewalk is filled with patrons consuming alcohol, while it is not unusual to have to step over a vagrant or two.
Barbados TODAY has even photographed one street character standing on the sidewalk in the middle of the day relieving himself, much to the annoyance of persons nearby. And based on the obnoxious smell that confronts anyone who walks by it is clear that the area is used regularly as a urinal.
One of our biggest problems in Barbados over the years has stemmed from the fact that we are so good at developing our spaces but very poor at maintaining them. It seems like anything goes in this country. So we spend thousands of dollars to put a decorative fence around the Treasury Building to keep out Ninja Man and his garbage, but whenever he feels like he and his colleagues can take a bath in the fountain in Heroes Square.
Daily the National Conservation Commission expends considerable sums to keep the lawns and gardens of Queen’s Park beautiful, so all kinds of unsavoury characters can drive away persons who would love to relax for a few minutes in the City’s most historic green space.
Now we are spending millions to change the Constitution river from a smelly, overgrown, mosquito-infested eyesore, into Bridgetown’s latest attraction: But will it turn into yet another perfect home for the uninvited?
Only time will tell. What we don’t need time to tell us is that we must take action on a number of the disgusting practices that are overtaking our society. All over the world there are sidewalk cafes and bars, but we have apparently chosen to operate businesses that dispense beers and rum like it is going out of style, while those who consume it behave as though the sidewalk is theirs to do with as they please.
It is time to put a halt to this conduct. We can light up Bridgetown, create Bridgetown Alive in whatever form we choose, and beautify the Constitution River until the cows “go” home — but until we do what all reasonable Bajans know must be done City revitalisation will remain an elusive dream.