An Independent legislator has expressed concern about the general state of this island’s infrastructure, while suggesting that greater attention must be paid to management of buildings and roads, as they impact national development.
Speaking during this week’s World Facilities Management Day Conference and Exhibition, Senator John Watson singled out the new state-of-the-art Barbados Water Authority building in the Pine, St Michael, saying it had yielded positive results, such as improved customer service and productivity.
He also suggested that if “the same measure of care” and a solid maintenance programme were applied to all Government infrastructure, Barbados could move from where it is right now in relation to the economy and unemployment.
“I’m not referring to the Government alone, this is a call for all Barbadians.
“What is required is for us to create a Barbados that will produce the kind of lifestyle that Barbadians need.
“For those Barbadians here, we cannot keep saying that we cannot fix the Empire Theatre or that we cannot fix the Supreme Court . . . or we cannot maintain our roads and hotel rooms,” he said, while stressing that tourism was vital for the earning of foreign exchange.
The July 13 to 14 conference was the first of its kind held on the island. It coincided with global activities marking World Facility Management (FM) Day, which was celebrated on July 13 under the theme, Empowering People for a Productive World.
The conference, which was held at the Savannah Hotel, brought together facility managers, project developers and other officials from the Caribbean to discuss Maintaining Asset Value Across the Caribbean and Latin America.
Organizers say the entire concept of “facilities management” is still a relatively new one for the region, with issues such as the maintenance of buildings often viewed as afterthoughts rather than a necessity.
The purpose of the conference was therefore to discuss a way forward with a view to improving facilities management and creating more effective physical environments, said spokeswoman for ACE Project Solutions Janelle Chandler, who lamented that nationally, a “don’t fix things until they are broken” mentality had taken over, causing the value of assets to quickly depreciate over time.
While acknowledging that Barbadians lacked knowledge about facilities management, Chandler cautioned that it encompassed much more than cleaning and hard services, such as air conditioning, but looked at the broader picture of how buildings affect the productivity of employees.