By now, it should be evident to everyone that the long-line, long-wait, high-tax method of managing Barbados has not changed. There is one notable exception.
As a semi-frequent traveller, I would rate my recent GAIA arrival experiences as the best of all countries to which I have ever travelled. On my most recent flight, I was out of the airport in about ten minutes after it landed in Barbados. Every step of the arrival process was pleasant. Even my departure was pleasantly noteworthy.
The obvious next step is to implement this remarkable efficiency across all aspects of the airport’s operations, and all public services. Unfortunately, our low self-esteem got the better of us. We have decided to give this Barbadian model of exceptional efficiency, to a foreign company to manage.
If our airport was a place of gross corruption and political patronage, then please call in a foreign company to save us from these corrupt political agents. Since they are unlikely to go willingly, a foreign company that they cannot intimidate, should send our political tormentors home.
Instead of planning to privatise that sort of corruption, we want to privatise the Grantley Adams International Airport. To allow a foreign company to manage our airport for 30 years is to privatise it. After each 30-year cycle, we will be forced to keep it privatised, because by then, that is all that our children would know.
We seem to want to prove to the world that we are just too stupid to manage our own airport. Worse yet, that our children can never be good enough to be trusted to manage their inheritance. Do we care what message these actions send to the next generation? Why are we forcing them to embrace the slavery legacy? This legacy is the idea that regardless of what you may achieve, you can never be good enough if you are a descendent of slaves. This curse limits our dreams and perpetuates the myth that prosperity is only for a few. It also damages our self-esteem. In 2019, we should be trying to break these stupid curses from over Barbados, not trying our best to perpetuate them.
If a company lacks important skills, then a confident manager will try to employ persons with those skills, regardless of where they are from. A fearful manager will try to sell the company. We are effectively selling our airport.
We were able to successfully manage our airport for over 50 years. We kept improving the customers’ experience until finally, we have demonstrated an international standard of excellence in the arrivals section. We now have two options. The mature option is for Barbadians to manage all aspects of the airport, to the same standard of excellence as the arrivals. This will facilitate a demand for Barbadian airport managers, to provide quality management services to inefficient airports all over this planet. The lunatic option is to sell our airport. Turning over the only airport we have to a foreign company to manage is to sell our children’s inheritance. When we sell their inheritance, they are forever deprived of senior management opportunities, and will receive little in return.
With no opposition in our Parliament, the administration will pursue whatever options it wants, because it can. The Government needs to listen to alternate solutions, especially when planning to pursue options that permanently disadvantage our children. They need to recognise that any curses that were passed down to their generation, do not need to be passed on to our children’s. After we have achieved excellence in the airport arrivals section, why is privatisation the only option that our parliamentarians are able to see?
As our nation’s elected leaders, they need to confront the slave legacy of low self-esteem that manifests itself by automatically trying to deprive others. They need to discourage the practises of pulling down those trying to achieve and kicking down any ladders to achievement once their donors have climbed. They need to reject these curses and start leading – for all of our sakes.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at [email protected]