Submitted by William Skinner
As we approach fifty years of Independence, we are plagued with a number of issues, which to my thinking reveals great failings of both the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party administrations. One of these is the poor management of the public transportation system.
We are therefore confronted daily, with an essentially indisciplined private transport system, in the form of the mini-buses/Zrs and a publicly owned Transport Board that is incapable of providing the needed services at any acceptable level.
Of course, our response to such a dilemma is to glorify the so-called “mini bus culture” and to instruct mini bus drivers to wear uniforms. On the other hand the mini bus drivers are seeking increase in bus fares and want to be given sole responsibility for transporting school children. We have this amazing ability to look at a problem and come up with solutions that don’t solve the problem. We then declare the problem solved and move on! It is an incredibly effective way of destroying a country.
Our economic growth is being severely hampered because of a poor public transport system and it is time we consider moving people faster. An effective rail transport could very well be a significant part of the solution. Many will consider our size and physical lay out to be problematic but the increasing number of vehicles on our roads, which is leading to constant gridlock, requires bold solutions. Far from being a deterrent, our small size might be an advantage. Consideration should be given to small environment friendly trains leaving depots from Speightstown and Oistins and travelers disembarking at or near Bridgetown. Drivers could park their cars and head into Bridgetown from strategically located train stations.
This is not the first time that such a suggestion has been made. However as we examine the chaos that is now rampant, we need positive visionary solutions. We cannot honestly believe that more buses will solve the problem for the next fifty years. It is high time that we have a national consultation on ways to solve our public transportation issues.
The daily problems with our water supply, is the result of lazy and non effective government planning. If we had embarked on a massive replacement of old pipes twenty five years ago; we would not now be replacing leaking underground pipes that are approaching a hundred plus years old. Why did we not address garbage disposal thirty years ago? We are grappling with these problems because we came up with lame solutions and fooled ourselves that the problems had been solved. Similarly, failure to fully examine the public transport system, twenty years ago, has resulted in the mayhem we have today.
Imagine the next two generations approaching one hundred years of independence and the same problems confronting them. Do we really want them to inherit a bigger mess than what we are daily with now?