The Mia Mottley administration’s “swift and concise” handling of the national shutdown ahead of the passage of tropical storm Dorian, has come in for high praise from the business community.
The head of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Tricia Tannis told Barbados TODAY that compared to other years, when business seemed unclear as to the shutdown protocols, this time around was much improved.
Tannis said: “The general view of the business community is that this time around was much improved in terms of communication.
“Of course, nothing is perfect and the timing of the system’s acceleration when persons were up and about, made it difficult for some persons to get the message, but social media would have assisted a lot in this regard.”
“With the new National Shutdown policy, I believe that the ambiguities which existed in previous years have been cleared up for the most part.
“I think persons would still have some questions, but the new policies have brought us a long way.”
In 2016, several businesses were dragged over the coals by the public for remaining open amid a national shutdown during the passage of Tropical Storm Matthew.
Some firms defended their actions, declaring that the policy was ambiguous in areas such as classification of essential services.
Then Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman, whose St Elmo’s Moon Town in St Lucy was among the businesses which opened in defiance of the advice of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) that everyone should remain indoors until the all-clear was given, attracted the attention of the then Freundel Stuart administration.
This time, Tannis noted that there was no such confusion and praised the business community for not only following the instructions of the policy but also going above and beyond to cater to the public during the allowable periods.
She said: “I think generally speaking the business community did respond very positively.
“I can personally attest to the willingness of the supermarket owners on Sunday, who quite willingly jumped on board to extend their hours and of course you would want to thank the staff who would have willingly extended their work hours as well.
“We don’t take this lightly and we are all very appreciative of the staffs’ effort.”
But the BCCI head pointed out that there were a few areas which still needed to be fine-tuned in the event of future impending natural hazards.
She noted that originally Government had announced that the country was to be shut down by noon on Monday but due to the accelerated nature of the storm, it was push forward to 10 a.m. In addition, notice that public transport would cease by noon was not known to the public until sometime mid-morning.
Tannis said: “I think the accelerated shutdown time was a bit of a surprise, but I think everybody was able to eventually mobilize their staff.
“The only thing I would say is that the timeliness of the communication for public transportation shutdown.
“We have to seriously improve upon that as we move forward. I think that has to be communicated at the same time with the national shutdown procedures.”