[Barbados] Who is minding the store?

News and information which is politically-based and directly or indirectly relevant to Caribbean aviation
User avatar
bimjim
Forum Administrator
Forum Administrator
Posts: 31377
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006

[Barbados] Who is minding the store?

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Aug 13, 2019

https://barbadostoday.bb/2019/08/13/who ... the-store/

[Barbados] Who is minding the store?
August 13, 2019

A Barbadian who left these shores some decades ago to reside in the United States, recently enquired if I was personally hopeful about my country’s future. I pondered momentarily and replied ‘Not really.’ Ever since, I have wondered why I did not give a more positive answer. There are a number of reasons. Firstly, I think too many of Barbados’ problems are structural and chronically systemic. Secondly, I feel that the whole political class on both sides of the partisan divide is not up to the task of transformation in any meaningful sense. Thirdly, I think there has been a decline in the moral sensibilities of Barbadians from all walks of life that will make it difficult to recover. The restoration and transformation of Barbados go way beyond solving our macro-economic difficulties.

I was even more convinced of the sincerity of my conclusion after reading the front-page story in the Sunday Sun of August 11, 2019. One headline screamed Flight Risk another read, Squatting Out of Control. It pointed to an upsurge in squatting in Rock Hall, St. Philip and other districts of Barbados. This was not a result of any lost DLP decade, because like the ZR issues, it spans many decades covering both DLP and BLP administrations. It tells a story of colossal indifference to public safety concerns. In both cases, problems were ignored, the laws were not enforced in spite of what could constitute serious threats to civil aviation, water purity and fire danger. Imagine that in 2007, the Town and Country Planning Department served notice on 36 squatters in Rock Hall. Today, if the report is accurate, some 300 structures exist, mostly occupied by illegal immigrants.

What is shocking is the threefold nature of the danger posed to public welfare. First, there is the threat to aviation. The GAIA stresses the danger from metallic roofing within the airport’s zone space. In 2007, the Director of Civil Aviation had suggested that the roofing could create a deflective surface to the radar energy reflected up to an airline. This could sometimes make air traffic controllers see an aircraft at two different positions on the same screen. Presumably, this could lead to serious error of judgment. Mark you, the land now occupied by the squatters was acquired by Government from its Canadian owner specifically to guarantee airport safety. Second, there is the danger to the water supply in the area and island wide and third, there is the difficulty of access to homes because of the closeness of the impromptu structures inhibiting fire and ambulance entries in cases of emergencies.

What should be even more disconcerting to Barbadians is the political response to these concerns since 2007. Then Prime Minister Arthur accepted Government responsibility for the situation in so far as it threatened aircraft travel. He stated, “Government would be culpable if we are aware that development is taking place that can put safety in the air at peril and do nothing about it.” On the question of the contamination of the water supply, a senior Health Official remarked that, “We would have spoken to both administrations … but our concerns were ignored and we believe it was due to politics.”

Barbados may not be salvable because there are too many in high places with an interest in the status quo and others who simply do not care. The Auditor General, in a survey done between 2015 and 2018, reported: “Squatting is a costly exercise to Government … and in some cases threatens the quality of the underground water supply especially in Zone 1 areas where there are the infusion of nitrates and bacteria in the water.” It concluded that the Ministry of Housing was not successful in reducing squatting.

What is amazing is that squatters have proceeded to build all kinds of ostensibly permanent structures including a huge two-storey house. Another squatter brazenly displays a Jamaican flag on his abode. There appears to be little hope that the squatting problem will be reversed anytime soon.

The Parliamentary Representative for the area assures us that the Government is ‘working assiduously’ and ‘collecting data,’ but he struck the politically correct note that there will be ‘no chasing people off the land.’ This is hardly cause for hope, particularly as the present Government seems committed to the free movement of regional people with attendant correspondent rights. Unplanned open migration could spell untold problems for Barbadians including slum and shanty town conditions that were never characteristic of the local landscape even in our poorest areas. Already we are hearing of over-crowded slum conditions developing in one of our oldest housing schemes. Who is minding the store?


Ralph Jemmott is a respected retired educator.

User avatar
bimjim
Forum Administrator
Forum Administrator
Posts: 31377
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006

Re: [Barbados] Who is minding the store?

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Aug 13, 2019

For this, my "blog", I cover aviation news for the entire Caribbean for this resource, and I have had to contain my zeal and stop actually reading the newspapers. The reason? Every time I read the articles in my home newspapers Nation and Barbados Today, my head fills with response articles, and I get angry beyond what is healthy for me.

Having seen Caribbean politicians in operation up close for decades (I also lived in Antigua, Tortola, Jamaica, and others), I have always known that few of them get into "the game" for the purpose of serving their people - the true reason - but that the majority (these days, anyway) are greedy beyond their experience and do it purely for vast, hard profit. Take the previous administration in Barbados, every single elected MP exited in disgrace, leaving the island some $40 Billion in debt. Yes, I said some $40 BILLION in debt, not some $40 million. Many of the former MPs now live in the USA, and one has just been arrested there for money-laundering.

The representatives of the people, scurrying around and hiding millions of dollars for their own personal gain.

The rumours abound, too. For multiple decades it has been rumoured that PM Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent has run the entire ganja trade profitably from his group of islands. And subsequently that when he arranged for the new airport of Argyle to be financed and built, he gathered together all of the funding, he delayed delivery and arranged for the entire order of hardware to be delivered all at once, and cut his personal kickback of the action forthwith. So, if you ask why every piece of airport equipment is almost completely rusted through (including passenger bridges and fire engines), the best explanation is that it was most probably the YEARS of sitting in the sea-side salt air waiting for the airport to be built.

The major obstacles to ANYTHING operating efficiently in the Caribbean are POLITICIANS. Even in the face of loss of major advantage they insist on inserting their ignorant personages between agencies and oversight.

Let the cap fit. Within the last year Comrade Ralph contacted LIAT (Comrade Do-Everything is also the shareholder Chairman) and demanded that for popularity (political) purposes they land a brand new US$25 million ATR on the new Argyle runway before it was either complete OR ready - with no licensing, no certification, no insurance, and the final 1/3 of the runway still a large hole over the open culvert at the latter end where the bridge conveys the three rivers from the ghauts uphill to the beach and the open sea.

Or basically, a wide open gaping hole the width of the runway. Had there been an incident and loss of aircraft - never mind the crew, the aircraft, damage to property or people on the ground - insurance would not have paid anyone a penny, and LIAT would effectively be permanently closed. Let me remind you that all of us professionals have seen Murphy at work, and we all remember the last few words "...and at the worst possible time."

I worked for LIAT for 16 years. At close quarters I observed the endless incompetence, mismanagement and utter ignorance nonsense grown men played at while claiming to responsibly be running a multi-million dollar airline carrying members of the travelling public. I saw more "friends and family" (of politicians and management) stuffed into places they did not belong than anywhere else before or since.

I came to Canada (Toronto) in 1996 and eventually found a job at the TTC - driving a bus through Toronto - and, while there were a finagle or two evident, there was nothing like the gross, open, flagrant incompetence I saw at LIAT.

LIAT has about 800 employees, TTC probably still has in excess of 10,000. How do they manage it successfully? They don't hire "friends and family". They require appropriate qualifications and experience - for all positions, but especially for management positions. You MUST be Canadian to operate machinery (buses, subways, streetcars), but you can be any nationality for management - they appreciate and will hire the broader experience that will bring greater competence, new and better techniques, and better options.

LIAT? Board is a collection of political hacks and friends, political appointees all. Management are the same - the current CEO is totally unqualified, her previous position before LIAT was book-keeper in a government-owned hotel. And this is not a hack job, she seriously does not have a clue.

Soon after I heard that Mia Mottley had "swept" the Barbados election, I got a call from fellow-Bajan Ainsley Corbin (in Canada), who said he had heard that Mottley had made a broad appeal to Bajans to write in with whatever they could to help her with the ruined economy. He asked me to do what I could and send it in, he was sure Mia would appreciate it. So said, so done, and I produced a 20-page document, followed by some furious communicating just to get it to her.

The content was on aviation in Barbados (CAD and the airlines), and aviation in the Caribbean (LIAT). The format was my honest view of the current problems, and suggested solutions.

I finally managed to get four confirmed deliveries of the document (I have been communicating with Caribbean PMs for several years now), and three months later these still not a direct confirmation or even so much as an email saying "Thank You".

I thought, what a rude arrogant bitch, so I asked an inside contact to give me some feedback. That arrived back that she had read at least part of the document, muttered under her breath "Not impressed" and put the papers down.

Since then, not a word.

From there to here. I heard after Commander Bud's Caribbean Meetup this year that the Merkan carriers were using the Meetup to try to influence the Caribbean PMs to allow them access to the internal Caribbean routes - the ones treasured by LIAT, Caribbean Airlines, WinAir, etc. and really considered a kind of cabotage. The PMs actually have a Treaty which limits ownership of such airlines to CARICOM nationals, so I don't actually see how they expect to achieve that.

But then again, to build such airlines our regional nationals would need money - but nobody in the region has any, and neither the banks nor the governments are making any available, so I guess we will all continue to stagger forward under our apparently natural burden of ignorance, incompetence, stupidity and poverty until Bill Gates buys the entire region, and deports us all to the Saudi desert sands in favour of selling the whole damned lot to foreigners.

I can only stand abroad, watch the carnage and shake my head at the sheer stubborness and stupidity which THRIVES back in my homeland.

Post Reply

Return to “Aviation-related Politics”