The haphazard approach to the ‘development’ of Bridgetown has robbed it, not only of character but of foot traffic. Too often landmarks/enterprises are closed without the certainty of a replacement. The Waterfront Café which closed in March is a classic example. It had character and ambiance that was unrivalled on the island. Though not its first closure, it is its last.
Before a fire gutted buildings on Bridge Street (opposite the Treasury Building), tourists blocking the road taking pictures could sometimes be overheard commenting on the quaintness of the buildings. Decades on the replacement mortar and brick rectangle buildings only raise a discussion about dust.
The Hyatt Hotel designed like the typical Florida beach buildings will replace those lovely stone buildings that butted and abounded the Bay Shore beach. The hope is that it will bring the spending tourists.
There’s now agitation for the removal of Lord Nelson’s Statute. Lavinya Stennett UK Future Leader/MD & Founder of the Black Curriculum says teaching slavery is important but you need to “contextualize it” by talking about who gained from it. No context and no plan/s to add statutes/monuments of black Bajans who made significant contributions to this island.
Except for a few landmark businesses, there’s really no pull to visit Broad Street. Business activity has slowed as shoppers opt for temperature controlled covered malls or for the exception.
Swan Street with mainly one door shops, variety, a cobble stone road, absence of cars, street vendors, deals and hive mentality, assails one’s senses (down market in the best sense) and its busyness spills out into High Street and Roebuck Street.
Covid-19 initiated the switch from in bank business to on line banking. This might very well result in the further contraction of business activity in Bridgetown as a major reason to visit is removed.
The vegetable and fruit market in lower Cheapside market had an old Barbados feel. Despite its flimsy and ugly structures, it was a hive of activity on Saturday mornings. Centrally located between the meat and fish markets and next to Shop Smart, shoppers brought business to that end of Bridgetown. The reality of its relocation to the colourful kiosks on Spring Garden has meant a reduction in foot traffic in that area.
Government’s continued relocation of workers to buildings outside of Bridgetown has also had an impact on business activity.
In the absence of a structured plan to bring shoppers back to Bridgetown, retail businesses will have some hard financial decisions to make. Shop Smart was quick about theirs and closed.
We all have opinions, I do and so do you but in each person’s opinion there can be some truth, some more than others. I am an older person now so my opinion has a little more seasoning than when I was younger. Please read with a believing ear, doubt is always destructive.
I believe the following can be done which will be a help to Barbados and I am sure you have many other ideas or modifications to add to this. Most of these suggestion are low cost or no cost solutions.
Create a boardwalk over the Constitution River from the Charles Duncan O’Neal Bridge to the mini bus stand stopping at the present cross over bridge. The existing reinforced sides can hold a lightweight wooden structure and some type of centre support may be necessary. This board walk will become the main public thoroughfare for the public transport system, allowing all people who use this system to access the buses and the mini buses in a safe manner without blocking or walking on the roads. You would have with this idea reclaimed an area for the people of Barbados in the heart of Bridgetown without depriving anyone of their property. See benefits below.
The main bus stand’s people entrances will now be from the boardwalk, not from Charles Duncan O’Neal Bridge although this one can remain as it would be alongside the new other board walk.
The old market and the bus stand and extra space opposite Starcom Network with the sewage pump station on it should be utilized now for a bigger bus stand.
The old market can have shops of whatever types are deemed necessary. Supermarket, Meat shops, Retail Clothing ETC. Or alternately, as the old market is a shell, tear it down and rework the area as extended Bus parking and boarding, expanding the overly small current bus stand. The area in front of the old Market will be extended parking for buses
Both sides of this long Boardwalk will have stalls for vendors: Local crafts, fruit, confectionaries, ETC, the smaller shops for vendors including small quick service “hand food” stalls. All tourists & all travellers who travel on the buses will have access to these vendors. This will get all the vendors off the streets of Bridgetown or facing the Charles Duncan O’Neal Bridge while giving them a superior access to the traveling public with thousands of commuters daily.
Some type of access to the river for cleaning or other reasons may have to be considered but the persons who did the original pile-driving Job can advise on this.
An excerpt from the Constitution of Barbados…
THE CONSTITUTION OF BARBADOS
PROTECTION OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF THE INDIVIDUAL
Whereas every person in Barbados is entitled to the Fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the individual. rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely(a) life, liberty and security of the person; (6) protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation; (c) the protection of the law; and (d) freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association, the following provisions of this Chapter shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection to those rights and freedoms subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of the said rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest……..
Protection of freedom of conscience.
(1) Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience and for the purpose of this section the said freedom includes freedom of thought and of religion, freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and both in public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance…..
Free Speech Area:
Declare Independence Square a free speech area (Similar to Hyde Park in England) with the usual restrictions as to preaching sedition, violence, Etc. but allow no prosecution under libel laws. People may preach, have political meetings, say what they like, (including what some may call hate/offensive speech) creating a vent for their frustrations. Although this is guaranteed under the constitution of Barbados, the laws do not allow anyone to have a contrary opinion. No newspaper is critical of Government or any practice. The consequences are grave if they do. The Nation newspaper used to be that voice but the laws have shut them up. To get a different opinion they must quote different persons’ opinion, never the Nation editors or their reporters or their contributors can offer a dissenting view from the prevailing Politically Correct (PC) opinion. Create an immunity similar to parliament for free speech. Allow no loud speaker systems to be used. This will stop the abuse of the free speech area as it will limit the amount of people speaking at the same time in the park, EG: on a Sunday. This will avoid having loud speakers at the four corners blaring at the same time with different speakers. But all can use broadcast systems EG: FM radio with a restriction as to the decibel level from each personal radio similar to what we witness used at the drive-in Cinema. You will be able to park near the Treasury Building and listen or “tune in” to which speaker you want to hear.
Creating a hive of activity in the heart of Bridgetown:
To understand why this is necessary, a person leaving the main bus terminal has to walk through Bridgetown quickly to get to the Cheapside bus terminal. They have now by-passed Bridgetown but if the following were implemented Bridgetown will become vibrant again. If Bridgetown becomes vibrant the Taxes actually collected will go up, the properties will have more value and people will take care of their properties & not allow them to become dilapidated as it looks now in our Capital City.
1 Use the car park behind Chefette Broad Street for mini Buses. Continue using the ally next to Chefette leading to that car park for the Taxis from the present Taxi stand in front of Chefette Broad Street. It would be good and preferable to have the area in front of Chefette Broad Street made into a rest area with seating and a gazebo or alternatively bring back the water fountain that was relocated in front of the public library but keep the new seating. This alley way for the taxies would need to be cleaned up and made to look bright and the traffic pattern would have to be reversed in the ally with the corresponding change at the new mini bus stand.
2 Another two rows of mini buses can be next to KFC & Burger King at the top of Baxter’s Road.
3 The building at the back of Chefette, “Beckwith Mall”, now closed should be purchased, knocked down flat and used for Public Toilets, Offices etc. Or with the increase foot traffic the owners of Beckwith Mall may yet find a new use.
4 Allowing free parking on all government controlled parking areas for persons working in Bridgetown, keeping the nearby street parking for shoppers that Visit Bridgetown. Stop removing car spots from the parking pool in the heart of Bridgetown, keep these for the in & out shopper. People working in Bridgetown tell their Bosses that Bridgetown is too congested so let’s move to out of town areas, the bosses listen incorrectly and now we have a situation that Bridgetown is dying and on its last legs. What the bosses should have perceived is that to park in Bridgetown costs a minimum of $8.00 a day, or $40.00 per work week. That is Gas money for all who have cars. Make the parking free and the cry to move out by all including the mid-level managers would be gone. Keep Bridgetown ALIVE. Bridgetown Drainage is good and it does not flood. The Utilities Companies have agreements to ensure service in the event of a calamity and are restored first to the Port, Bico Cold Storage and Bridgetown, and the main feeds are all underground. The infrastructure in Bridgetown is sound why allow it to be discarded? The sewage system works unlike the same on the south coast.
5 Remove the restriction on businesses from using the alleyways, allowing putting of chairs, side walk cafes, Restaurant Drive Thru, Low level music, Bars, Clubs, small shops Etc. These alleyways are cool no sun , Breezy & Clean (washed each night by the SSA) The restriction that is usually cited is that you have to allow the fire tenders to get into the alleyways BUT no fire tender can fit in any alleyway in Bridgetown so that argument is bogus. Do not allow car parking in the alleyways just allow free access, chairs and tables.
6 Many years ago people were discouraged from living in Bridgetown. So now you have an exodus each day. If this were to change people will be on the streets later into the night thus reducing the sudden outflow from 4:00pm, and creating extended business opportunities and employment for all. Many buildings in Bridgetown have empty floors. These can be used for living apartments, with minor modifications. Businesses will return when there are better opportunities. A sprinkler system in these converted buildings would mitigate any fire risk.
7 The busiest area in Trinidad is Independence Square Port of Spain simply because the mini buses are in the area. We can see and learn, too long we have let Bureaucrats run things and they think like a Bureaucracy. Everything they do turns out wrong. EG: “Put parking wardens in Bridgetown to take the work off of the police”, so if you come to town twice and each time you get reported by the wardens the message is, shop elsewhere not Bridgetown. You are never coming back. Who needs that! The result Bridgetown is dying. And the walk is far to the car park no shuttle not even 1$ paid trolley rides or 2$ trolley rides from the port to town or the $1 trolley ride from the Cheapside bus stand to the Fairchild bus stand. The executives get free parking in the City Mall car park at the expense of the company so they do not feel it hence no need to change and the town is dying for the lack of vision. Allow duty free importation for these few short haul trolleys max 15 passengers for this purpose even if you give the concession to the taxi men association. The island tour & other destinations Taxies can remain at the port.
8 Get rid of the wardens that walk around to REPORT parking infractions, the few that may remain can advise drivers, no parking, stopping etc. if needed, just no confrontations, just keep traffic flowing and the government owned car parks free from would be robbers.
9 When funds are available talk to Kymar Saffery the head of the homeless shelter organisation as to how to remove the homeless beggars from the streets. He may recommend some type of building in the country, with school meals dropping off some meals during school times of the year. (The schools meals program produces thousands of meals a day, these extra meals will not even register). The impressions given to any tourist is that walking through Bridgetown you are hit on by a beggar every 50 steps at least 6 beggars for every trip on Broad street, imagine the impression the tourist get of Barbados, How effective do you think your advertising dollar is now when they board their boat, what message are they giving to others that want to come to Barbados. In Puerto Rico you do not see a beggar in the tourist area and that is like America. They try to protect that industry, in Barbados we want to keep the tourist in the all-inclusive hotels and allow Bridgetown, Taxis, Tour Companies etc. to die. Some Smart Choice. If anybody objects to moving them from Bridgetown invite the concern public who object to invite them at their home where they will be treated properly as recommend by them.
10 Traffic Relief:
Put the stop lights on blinking. Red on less trafficked lane and orange on main thoroughfares. Do this to stop lights from Worthing right into Bridgetown. Everyone knows there is no traffic when this happens but the bureaucracy at MTW do not think like that, they love their control. They will give a thousand reasons why not and deny their own eyes.
11 The same way that we have a loading area for passengers to go on a Jolly Roger Cruise use comparable loading areas for all tours and boat parking facilities on the opposite side in the Careenage even if at some time the mouth of the Careenage has to be expanded to create a larger safe harbour for more yachts and pleasure craft in the same manner that a safe harbour was created for the fishing boats by the fish market. Secondly some overall plan can be looked at all along the coast going towards the fish market from the present berth for Jolly Roger with an access road through the government car park on the sea side.
Part 2: will deal with other Barbados improvements.
Part 3 will deal with Barbados Agricultural improvements
The Government of Barbados…
“Play your Part in the RESCUE< RECOVERY & REBUILDING exercise…Share Your Ideas for a better Barbados” EMAIL.…
Suggestion, Why not share your ideas in the form of Articles even if it is a separate tab on BU for the Betterment of Barbados so more may have the opportunity to See it and participate where the ideas may be discussed and not just go into an email where you do not know where it goes, who is reading it and the Biases they may hold.
Put your ideas in Public view for scrutiny and comment as this one does on BU.
For example if they receive these emails and should they hold certain views they are more than likely to conclude based on their Biases thy may say “we have received 1,542 emails and we have found Three that are credible. Depending e.g. if they are Socialist/ /Capitalist/Crony Capitalist/Marxist/Communist/Dictator Environmentalist / just to name a few.
Because of their Bias the Population of Barbados would never see 1,542 emails. That does not make Sense, let alone being Transparent.
Make these emails Public or even if you say send it to this particular email have them Published on a Website.
If you do not do that you are fooling the people, by wasting their time and energy!
All additional suggestions are welcome all will be treated with respect and considered to be added in the other installments.
Frankly I have always felt that it is essential for so many reasons to involve all sectors of the economy, large and small, in the business of tourism. In an interesting experiment the Tourism Foundation, 100 market traders at the Montego Bay Harbour Street Craft Market, have received business training and guidance on what types of products visitors are looking for__how to approach tourists effectively, how to improve sales techniques plus tips on running a profitable business. At the same time tour operators are being asked to encourage customers to visit the market in order to boost income for local traders.
The Tourism Foundation was founded in 2003 as a UK registered independent charity. According to its website, its mission statement and objectives are to support destination stakeholders – including tour operators from the relevant source markets, destination stakeholders, local tourism businesses and local communities – to develop and deliver a programme of activities that optimizes the overall benefits of tourism.
The initiative is part of a wider plan by the Travel Foundation to improve the impacts of tourism in the area and it will be rolled out to other tourism resorts across Jamaica in the future. Training is being carried out by a local association, the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd (TPDCo).
In the words of the Travel Foundation’s Head of Sustainable Practice, Julie Middleton, ‘we’re continuing to work with market traders, the Parish Council, TPDCo and others to ensure that the market offers a vibrant and enjoyable experience for tourists and to support local traders’. Adding ‘we also need to ensure that tourists know about the craft market and what it has to offer, so we are asking tour operators to include it in their excursions and to promote it’. Also part of the initiative has been to develop a walking map of Montego Bay and an insider guide to the area, highlighting local attractions.
Could this be a model to redress the concerns and frequently aired woes of our own Pelican Village Craft Centre?
Perhaps spearheaded by the dynamic Chief Executive Officer of the recently formed Barbados Tourism Product Authority!
It appears that we have all the existing parts and expertise and maybe it’s just the co-ordination that is needed.
While the larger companies continue to down size, right size or consolidate, it must be obvious, even to the less enlightened, that it will be our smaller businesses and enterprises who will significantly soak up unemployment and create new financial opportunities.
Increased visitor interaction with our traders and craft people is also a great way to build our destination awareness and helps to spread the economic benefits generated by tourism more equally throughout society.
My own thoughts would be to develop a passport like map, which embraces Bridgetown offering an incentive, like a 10 per cent discount on presentation with participating partners, which could then be easily monitored for cost-effectiveness and the implementation expenses fairly shared across the ultimate beneficiaries. The ‘document’ could either be accessed online or distributed through strategic locations like the Barbados Tourism office located in the port.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was kind enough to invite me and a large number of representatives from both the private and public sector to a half day discussion forum last week. To quote from documentation provided the objective was to ‘Maximise Bridgetown’s economic and cultural activity’ by leveraging ‘existing institutions (tangible and intangible) and infrastructure (historic buildings and public spaces)’ by garnering ‘support from the local business sector to diversity night-time (after 6 pm) economic and cultural activities’. Continue reading →
I picked up on a newspaper article recently that highlighted, what was described as the world’s third largest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas ‘dropped anchor’ in Barbados with its ‘4,600 passengers and 1,600 crew’. You would think along with other ships that arrived the same day what a wonderful opportunity for sales. The problem was it happened on a Sunday and according to various social media sites the majority of shops were closed.
I then thought of the Pelican Village Craft Centre and was frankly amazed that they do not appear to have a website or Facebook presence. Individual businesses operating out of the location may have, but if you are a potential customer and have not been here before, how would you know?
With all the time on the ship cruisers frequently research what is on offer at the next port-of-call. Tenants and special interest groups have long bemoaned the lack of business but what are they doing to capture what seems like a untapped massive potential market, many of which have to walk within feet of their premises. I understand from an informed source that ‘only one or two’ even open their doors on Sundays?
And surely, one of more persons could stand outside the port entrance handing out simply flyers with shopping enticements.
Introduction: Subsidising the private sector has become a public policy addiction, yet vast gaps remain in our understanding of the political economy of our own society. Take for example, the recent row over the abolition of VAT, in which a higher proportion of ordinary people’s take home pay is spent on the regressive tax than that of the well-paid. Yet, for reasons best known to himself, the governor of the central chose to make his views known while out of the island, and, having done so, declined to enter any serious debate about the sales tax. This contempt for Barbadians is part of the pattern that has seen a massive delegation of politicians, civil servants and business people travelling to China – a country that ten years ago they knew only as the home of Suzie Wong and Kung Fu – In search of the mythical pot of gold at the end of the Oriental rainbow. However, back home, the nation has ground to a halt; people have taken strong positions and every other idea has been blocked out. Of course, there is very little new to say in terms of new ideas, but there is still a lot to fight for, most important of which is the future of our island home.
Strategic Policy-making: Ideally, government could have avoided going cap in hand to the Chinese, or tolerating a silly alternative by going to the United Arab Emirates as if a Middle Eastern state would look more kindly on Barbados than the Chinese. A more strategic policy, and one better in the long-term, would be to launch massive urban renewal programme covering the two sq. mile area bordered by Bay Street, Jemmott’s Lane, Bay Street and Fairchild Street.
Introduction: As minister of finance Chris Sinckler gathers his thoughts for his August 13 Budget, he must realise that this will be the hour of decision, that not only the medium and long-term future of the island will bear heavily on the decisions he makes, but his very future may depend on the package of fiscal and monetary remedies he reveals. But, time is short and he has already missed a number of clear-cut opportunities to carry out a deep-rooted restructuring of the economy, reforms to the public sector and radical stimuli to kick-start the economy. However, there is very little to be said in terms of policy that has not already been said, and all that is left now is to drive home what are commonsense policy proposals, but which the hardened mind-set of the Barbados political and policymaking class would not even entertain.
Programme: There is no way round it, but the public sector has got an overburdened payloads of 30000 mainstream employees, and a further 20000 indirect workers who depend on the public sector – Hilton and Gems workers, and construction site workers and others who depend on government contracts. Out of a workforce of about 110000, of whom officially 11 per cent are economically inactive (about 12000), and a further 25 per cent are underemployed (about 27000), including those young men and women who work for petrol stations doing nothing but filling cars, a waste of the most important years of their lives, even given the dignity of work, the minister must admit this is crisis time. But, judging by reports on his Brasstacks interview (I missed it) there is still a stubbornness about preserving public sector jobs. What the minister must understand is that no one wants people to be unemployed, what we need are proper strategies to deal with the current situation. It is the fog of ignorance that surrounds this situational confusion of strategy and tactics and the primacy of political opportunism which not only makes the crisis even more toxic, but crowds out commonsense. To help, I will focus on a single infrastructure development that could have gone a long way towards reinvigorating the economy, the regeneration of the City.
Long since the era of colonial enslavement in Barbados, right through the times of post-emancipation, and into the period of 1937 labour disturbances in this country, and up to this juncture of post-independence, huckstering, wayside vending, outdoor business from trays, stalls, vehicles on the streets, roads in Bridgetown and elsewhere, has been playing a very significant role in the development of aspects of the retail/wholesale business trading sector in the country; in the provisioning of investment outlays in productive capital in the commercial business sector of the country; in the producing of many business models that again and again represent the resurgence of a younger more vibrant Black entrepreneurial ownership class, and in the generating of earned income for many households and families in this Barbadian society.
Too, from the times of the insertion of British/European social cultural values and norms into this land in the 17th century, through the times of the increasing synthetization of things European and things African into the production of a distinct Bajan identity and culture in the 20th Century, right up to this period of increasing global cross cultural interweavement interpenetration in Barbados, huckstering – peddling – hustling – has been playing a marvellous but tortuous developmental role in the nexusing of the traditional and the contemporary/modern in this country – i.e. in the preservation and retention of many Bajan socio-cultural traditions in this country, along with that of the promotion and advancement of many aspects of other present-day contemporary local, regional and Western/Eastern cultural values and patterns.
But it is in the area of the quest for greater mass political freedom and greater individual liberty mediated by a sense of deep ideological consciousness and historical awareness about its heritage and its historic function, and through an avowed commitment to the realization of certain societal goals, that those people who now carry out huckstering – wayside vending – peddling – hustling – have been able to demonstrate the greatest social political significance of the profession of huckstering (outdoor business) to the Barbadian people.
The Constitution River Redevelopment Project has been going on for a while now. The Boardwalk is slated to be extended as far down as the Globe Cinema, and the river cleaned. So far, work has been pretty much completed as far down as the original Minibus Rover Terminal.
Boardwalk to River Terminal
However, although the Minibus Terminal is clearly usable, as are the passageways to it, there is still no word on when either will be reopened. The minibus operators have expressed concern over this, as many prospective commuters are deterred by the lengthy walk to the current terminal, as the direct walkway remains closed.
The River Terminal is Clearly Usable
So far, the yet-to-be reopened minibus terminal seems to have up against the heavy rains, but the ZR terminal from which all the PSV’s currently operate is another story. The part of the constitution river which is yet to be redeveloped (from the ZR terminal down to Queen’s Park, then to the Globe) floods when their heavy rain. The ZR terminal floods as well with no drainage system in place for the water to run into the river.
Sometime ago on Barbados Underground I wrote that perhaps a garden in Bridgetown in memory of our slave ancestors – who were kept in the Cage – would be a good idea. Although a garden has not been mentioned. I am delighted that Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy will erect a plaque to remind us of our brothers and sisters of the slave trade.