Last time in Reflections 1, I asked a question about Emancipation and Bussa, querying his created military status. I also wrote about a few challenges facing Barbados in education and the environment. I noted that significant changes in schools’ curricula should be accompanied by new physical designs for schools, and that a clean environment was the first step to restoring Barbados, hence no littering, no illegal dumping.
Few might recall that the early tanks for the solar water heating systems were vertical instead of the current horizontal. Well, I do remember suggesting a horizontal version to the then solar water heating pioneer who told me it could not be done. Ah well!
As the island relies more on solar, the recent news that the Chinese have developed a material lighter than silicon – organic solar cells made of plastic and carbon – is a substantial step forward. The development means that in the future, flat plate collectors will be lighter and more flexible and not necessarily flat at all. I believe, however, that all solar farms and even roof top solar should be backed up by wind power.
Few, if any, know the answer to – which was first, the chicken or the egg? We do know, however, the answer to a similar question – “Trafalgar Square or National Heroes Square?” Well, we missed the boat on Trafalgar. With thousands of British visitors each year we could have had a small fenced area with flowering plants and a ramp where visitors could pose for photographs with Horatio. Ah well!
The late 1990s negatives to the continued location of the Nelson erection were and still are couched in the hypothesis that the majority of the population then was ignorant of Nelson’s ideas about slavery. So, without that knowledge, they then contributed to the cost of the sculpting and erection of the statue at the time. I wonder how their ignorance at that time contrasted or compared with the knowledge of the dismal first term performance of the DLP in 2013; yet with all the population’s knowledge they re-elected the Dems to office.
I wonder how come hundreds of Caribbean men went to fight in the Second World War with the knowledge that they might die somewhere in that theatre of war. It is so easy to comment on history which one has not lived.
I went into Grenada during the US intervention and, quite by chance, witnessed the apprehension of one of the Coard faction. I also met an undertaker who told me, as I recall, that more than one hundred people were killed or died trying to escape the slaughter at the Fort where Maurice Bishop and some of his colleagues were killed. I don’t think there has ever been any count of the dead. I wonder what historians will say seventy-five years from now about that tragedy.
Getting back to Trafalgar, it is probably too late to create a historical space where the many British might feel enough empathy to be photographed. I don’t necessarily agree with the removal of the statue but with the coming of virtual reality there is room for a Nelsonian visit to Barbados as well as the recreation of the ratification of the Treaty of Oistins January 17, 1652 and other historical events which may be viewed in a virtual reality ‘Ready Room’ at a suitable location.
On another matter, the Government has established a Commission to review the operations at the Bridgetown Port and to make recommendations, which I imagine, would address the immediate, short, medium and long term. How, for instance, would long-term plans for the port mesh with the proposal to build an additional island which has been mooted for a long time?
As for the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), again, there is no easy fix. As desirable as boarding bridges may be, the airport’s current design and layout do not lend themselves to an easy solution regarding the possibility of bridges. And while it is true that passenger fees contribute to airport maintenance and possible further development, they alone cannot bear the burden of airport expansion and modernization.
Take Miami International Airport, for instance. My first transit through Miami International was in 1973 and up to a few weeks ago as I made a transit, I recognized that they probably have never stopped the improvements to that hub. I don’t recall what user fees are added to the air ticket for those who use the airport – it’s probably in the fare – but those taxes alone could never have sustained the continued improvements over the decades. Of course, the airlines also make a considerable investment there.
Here at home, I am glad that the airport’s ground handlers were invited to the recent meetings with the Prime Minister and other ministers. Ground handlers are vital to crisp airport operations and they must ensure that their staff is fit and ready for the task. Part of that readiness is to have vision and hearing testing before employment and during. The trade unions should therefore come on board with those procedures and have to understand that, not only the individual’s safety is compromised on failure of such testing and any remedial action, but also the safety of other workers and, of course, the airlines’ crew and the passengers, to say nothing of the aircraft itself which might suffer damage.
With the fabric of the body of many of today’s aircraft being made of composite material, any unfortunate strike from ground equipment, even what the average person might call minor, could result in millions of dollars in damage. One may notice the ground equipment being cautiously manoeuvred towards any aircraft. There is a protocol for these approaches as well as for chocking the wheels and all other activities around an aircraft.
Should the possible divestment of the air and or sea ports occur, Government, workers and trade unions will need to understand that any company making such an investment will expect a return on their investment and the outlay of monies will not just be for a social good of Barbados and its residents. There will be changes affecting ALL those who work at either port. Among other factors, on-time attendance and performance shall be critical.
Looking at another possibility, should Government permit the establishment of a United States outgoing boarding facility at the airport we have to realize that once an individual is proceeding along the corridor of the facility, they shall be on U.S. territory, to all intents and purposes. It’s a strange feeling to which I can attest having gone through the exercise in the Bahamas.
It has been said that a nation’s (good) health is a nation’s wealth, just as a nation’s ill health can be a nation’s financial drain pipe. We have hung our health-hat on the rack of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and we are prepared, it seems, to swallow any pill, even if it kills us. And listening to the advertisements for the various “cures” it is clear that some of those pills can indeed kill you.
So far, our health systems have focused on curative rather than preventive health care. Take something as simple as sugary drinks; now there is a call for a ban on their sale in schools. Surely, the simple requirement is the reduction of sugar input at the manufacturing stage. Such may surely be legislated just as can be the percentage of real fruit juice in fruit drinks. Regular checks shall be required. If the sugary drinks are banned for sale at schools parents will just be forced to buy the drinks outside and give them to the children to take to school.
It is now decades since I gave a public presentation with the topic – Agriculture an Industry in Search of a Policy. I believe that industry is STILL in search of a policy. What do you think? Among the points I made was that there was (and still is) no health / agricultural policy which would speak to, among other things, the need for adequate production levels of fresh fruit to meet the higher demand for juice content in drinks as opposed to water.
In part of that presentation, I pointed out the critical need for sufficient water resources which would allow for our playing fields to be irrigated since, as we know, during the dry season (whenever that is nowadays) the grounds become hard and cracked, yet our children with developing bone and joint structures are required to play or compete on these surfaces. Permanent damage may result. Of course, irrigation must also be available for food production as well.
Many years ago, the late Carmeta Fraser introduced us to instant yam. The population was probably not ready for that kind of product but within the last few years and with more people having less time to spend in the kitchen, yam and other instant products should do well. Pretty packaging seems to be ‘de rigeur’ but we have to be careful not to defeat our effort at local versus imported by creating too high priced a product because of packaging.
We are now in the season of off-shore medical schools. I seem to recall that one of them plans to build a clinic, maybe another will follow suit and still another, etc. Wow! Which agency shall ‘police’ their functions? I want to suggest that the various schools come together and build a facility which can provide a ward of 10 to 15 beds for each school. Each school shall be responsible for the maintenance of their ward. They shall share the cost of (solar/wind generated) electricity and plumbing installation, cost of water and the upkeep of the common areas including two small operating theatres.
There shall be an arbitration panel made up of an equal number of local and investor personnel to resolve any difficulties that may arise.
Yes, there are many more reflections but I must not overdo a good thing.