The speculation on the level of support Opposition Leader Mia Mottley would get for her protest walk against the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax was put to rest today, when thousands of marchers took to the streets just after noon.
The scorching midday sun would not stop the 3,000 plus supporters from joining the members of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in the march against the tax that has sparked much outcry since its imposition just weeks ago.
BLP officials led the way, holding hands periodically during the hour-long walk that started in Heroes Square, moving on to Bridge Street, Probyn Street, ending in Bay Street where Mottley delivered a letter to Government Headquarters.
Behind them were people of every colour, class and creed, the majority wearing white; a few dressed in red.
Some made the trek in silence. Others shouted chants like “We had enough; enough is enough!”; “Chris got to go!”; “Them killing we”; and “Lord, we can’t tek it no more” – among other catchy lines. Then, there were those who, at the top of their voices, rendered the popular protest song We Shall Overcome.
Calysonian Serenader’s 2014 Outta Wuk didn’t make it to the Pic-O-De-Crop Finals of Friday, August 1, but it was a pick constantly replayed from the music set on a truck that carried supporters, including artiste Peter Ram.
Some of the scores of placards held high read: DLP Sinking The Ship, DLP A Solid Waste, One Tax Too Many, Too Many Taxes, Six Years Of Lies; Six Years Of Taxes, Six Years Of Pain, All My Money Taxed Already, Dun Wid Dem Before Dem Tax We Again, Solid Waste Tax Waste Of Time, Stand For Better, No More Sucking On Our Nipples, A New Taxman Chris Taxmore, Why Do We Have To Pay For Dem Stupidity?, This Tax Is Pain; This Government Must Be Insane, and What Next, Toilet Tax?.
Many not participating in the march lined the streets and gathered at vantage points on buildings, watching the thick crowd pass by. Some even cheered on marchers, shouting they wanted to be involved in the action, but could not because they had to work.
Some supporters told Barbados TODAY why they protested. They all shared the common position that they were not for the Solid Waste Tax, and hoped that it would be repealed as soon as possible.
“I joined because I can’t pay no more taxes. My light off. I can’t pay my mortgage. What more Chris Sinckler want from me? Why them can’t cut them salary in half? . . . . These people unreasonable, and that is why all of we out here.
“And the time going come, when we going vote them out,” said a loud protestor calling herself Anonymous for fear of being “victimized”.
“My inheritance is under attack. You can’t tell me own a piece of the rock and then tax it from under me. I do not mind paying taxes; but they must be justified,” another marcher stated.
Alma Roach, an elderly woman, said while she received a tax bill for just over $300, she could not afford to pay it because the monthly disability benefit she received was too small.
“I feel bad. That is why I am here to support the march; because I can’t pay the tax,” said Roach.
Sheryl Hart, another elderly person, stated: “I can’t pay this tax. I does get pension off of a man that dead that I did live with and that can’t stretch. This month I had to pay $225 in bills, and then I was left with what? It ain’t fair. If we don’t do something, them going to be taxing we all the time; and you wouldn’t be able to survive.”
Hamza Bourne is only 22, but he does not think that he is too young to protest against the tax which he believes will especially affect the elderly population.
“This Government doing too much stupidness. Taxing people all the time. Taxes, taxes, taxes! No work, and stores shutting down and you ain’t making sales. You got old people that getting $600 and $700 a month, and now you want them to take $600 and $700 a month now and pay another tax.
“You want them pay more for food; you want them pay more for light; you want them pay more for water. The people can’t take any more; and people seeing it, but they are just afraid to do something,” Bourne lamented.
A small representation of the Royal Barbados Police Force oversaw law and order on the road, controlling the massive crowd that was hardly aggressive – that was actually polite.