We are on the penultimate day of 2019.
With the year drawing to a close, it’s only natural to reflect on the past 12 months – the highs and lows, the disappointments and achievements, and what has been left undone.
The year 2019 for Barbados was challenging and equally so for our region and the world.
However, 2020 beckons, and so we gird up for the task ahead, mindful that it can’t be the same, same old and there are things we must leave behind in 2019.
Here at home, issue number one was, undeniably, crime. Too many families were rocked by senseless grief as gun violence escalated.
Just today, we were reminded that efforts to arrest the scourge heading into 2020 cannot be relaxed, as news came of murder number 49 for the year – the shooting death of 22-year-old Kirt Bowen at Redmans Village, St Thomas.
We heap much praise on the Royal Barbados Police Force for its relentless efforts to keep us safe.
However, if any significant gain is to be achieved in this battle against crime, we must be mindful of the fact that these violent acts of late are a signal of the unusual times in which we live. Not only have the killers become more callous in their approach, but there is a level of brazenness, and sophistication in their commission of these violent acts. More guns, more technology, and more boots on the streets won’t do the job alone.
Let us understand that violent crime, although seemingly concentrated in known areas, is a Barbados problem. No one can feel safe that we experienced our highest murder statistics ever. We need a decisive, collaborative effort between the arms of law enforcement and justice, the Government, and the citizenry to bring meaningful change.
Equally, 2020 must not be a year where there is violence in schools.
Education Minister Santia Bradshaw said it right when she stated that violence in schools is a mirror of a society struggling with violence. Everyone from the Ministry of Education to parents, teachers, churches, and communities need to come together and make sure our schools are safe places.
In 2020, Barbadians should also all be anxious to say goodbye to an untidy environment.
It can’t be said enough that we have lost respect for our island and our careless habit of dumping here, there and everywhere must stop.
New garbage trucks or not, Barbados will not be clean until every citizen commits to keeping their environs clean and resolve to reuse, reduce and recycle in 2020 and beyond.
And that brings us to the April 2020 ban on plastics. The time has long past for Barbadians to end their love affair with plastics. It is harmful to our health and our environment. Let’s scrap it.
Next year is touted as a big year for Barbados with the hosting of We Gatherin’ 2020.
In that case, we have to say goodbye to poor service across the board – be it government or private sector. Long lines to conduct similar procedures and cumbersome processes and impolite and not so helpful customer representatives are really a waste of time and productivity.
Too often in this country service excellence is treated lightly. A service destination like ours must redouble its efforts to ensure quality service is ingrained in every worker.
Next year will also be a time that we are looking forward to even more economic recovery after years of austerity. Most will hope that wealth is not just concentrated in the hands of the few, but Government would ensure that the vulnerable, the working class are not left behind and promised transformation will result in a slice of prosperity for all. Here’s to 2020!