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Time for answers

General elections in Barbados could be just weeks away. In Bajans terms at most it can only be “a few” months until Barbadians have the opportunity to vote for a new Parliament.

It is also interesting that campaigning for the 30 seats in Barbados is taking place at the same time that Americans are spending billions to elect a president and representatives. We could learn a lot from the Americans as far as governance is concerned, but there are also some features of administration and politics in Barbados that Americans could benefit from if they would only pause to hear voices other than their own.

One of the plausible features of Barbadian politics is that for all their screaming, there is really no major philosophical difference between the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party. That’s why, perhaps, elected members have been able to switch back and forth between the two sides with such ease over the decades.

Historically, the major differences between the two parties have resulted more from the personalities of the leaders at the time — especially when we had leaders with a strong, even over-powering, presence.

The clear lack of philosophical differences in the parties has contributed in no small measure to Barbados’ growth and development because it has facilitated a level of continuity in policies that many other countries could only dream of.

Every once in a while, however, we see how the personality differences at the top can leave us with glaring, costly examples of what Barbados could do without. We are on the verge of another general election and motorists, pedestrians and home and business operators in the relatively small area of Warrens and its environs still have to put up with road works that should have been long completed had the ABC fly-over project not been abandoned.

In fact, all those motorists, regardless of their political colour, who still spend long periods in lines on the ABC Highway, or trying to get on to or off of it each morning and evening, must have said a million and one times to themselves that a continuation of the fly-over project started by the last Government would have solved this problem years ago.

Instead, the country will have to foot a more than $50 million bill for the Greater Warrens Road Improvement Project, which really does nothing for the time wasted on the entire length of the highway each day — time that costs us all. That’s not the result of philosophy! That was all about strength of personality and political expediency.

We have no doubt that a number of issues raised by the DLP on the way the then BLP Government was executing the project were legitimate. But shutting it down in favour of the mamby pamby “Let’s widen the roundabouts!” plan was political stupidity. The problems still exists!

No reasonable person could have faulted the new Government for fixing the matter of what they saw as an open-ended contract, or hiring a new contractor if they saw it as necessary, or prosecuting someone in the last administration if evidence pointed to wrong-doing. But no, we let politics trumped commonsense.

And while we can’t fault the people at C.O. Williams Construction for putting the Warrens proposal to Government, it can’t take much brain power to deduce that had the fly-over options been allowed to remain in play much of what is now taking place in Warrens would not be necessary — although the issue of access to Warrens would have had to be addressed at some point.

So as the politicians take to the platforms, we admonish Barbadians to listen carefully to their rhetoric. We may not be able to raise questions at the public meetings, but when they come to our homes to solicit votes we certainly can demand explanations.

Make sure the Bees explain, for example, how they will address the issue of the QEH versus a new hospital. Ask the Dems why EduTech is floundering while our neighbours in Trinidad and Antigua are taking our model and making a success of it. Ask the Dems how they view the Bees’ “initiatives” for the Scotland District; and the Bees how they are going to treat the Four Seasons project.

Barbados is under too much economic and social pressure to allow one side or the other to throw out the baby in a red, or yellow, tee-shirt with the bath water because they talked “big and bad” on the platform and then can’t afford to back down from it when it comes time to govern.

One Response to Time for answers

  1. Tony Webster October 31, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Mr. Editor, you are on good ground to frame such tough questions, but do not hold your breath for candid answers! I am quite sure that collectively, our institutions and political parties have the ability to lead this beloved rock and its people, to a new, prosperous and sound future. But taken individually, our parties will always come to Bay Street with a hodge-podge of abilities, ambitions, and some of undeniably crass behaviour / performance. One of the main stumbling-blocks to any attempt we might consider at a coalition govermnment, is YOU and ME: as we have never yet given a chance to this “suspicious character”, our electorate is understandably very reluctant, but the need is now obvioius, and urgent.
    Simply put, our country has become un-competitive to sustain our current , acquired taste for “modern living”. We need to get back to cutting our “suits” acording to the cloth available. Our competitors are not just our Caribbean siblings, but we are out there in the global ocean/ market… and there be sharks all about. Fretting about Trinny adventurers who “cherry-pick” our best private-sector fruits, or even sister EC$ countries, with far more attractive currency pegs, yields us NOTHING. We all need to ask ourselves the question: As the “Business-as-usual ” model has clearly failed (read the “Guv’s” latest comments) how on earth can we possible rely upon the old, tired, and failed model of “politics as usual”, to pull a rabbit out of the hat? Or do we dust-off “politics of inclusion” once again? For leadership going forward the next five years, we need every brave, innovative, experienced, and patriotic brain to assemble at Bay Street! Led by a leader, of course.


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