It is not often when I feel compelled to put pen to paper to compliment a government minister. That is for several reasons but mainly because they usually have their adoring public that tells them what they want to hear, not necessarily the truth; and because they rarely do anything that deserves honourable mention. However, Minister of Health, Donville Inniss has done something that is worthy of praise.
I am specifically referring to the simple act of turning up and showing support for officers who were overseeing a cleanup at Furniture Limited. That gave the Environmental Health Officers the confidence to do their job without fear. In circumstances such as that cleanup operation, the officers would be performing their duties, someone would call a senior person in the ministry and the inspectors would be called off. The Minister’s presence not only said to the officers, do your duty, I got your backs: it said to others, it is a waste of time calling any senior person because the most senior person in the Ministry has given his blessing to the Environmental Health Officers.
Mrs Ram Mirchandani (r) on location with Minister of Health Donville Inniss – photo credit: Nation
The decision by the Ministry of Health to direct the owner of Furniture Limited Mrs Ram Mirchandani to clean-up her establishment must be commended. It is an action which is decades late in coming. While it is unfortunate this government had to be coerced into making the decision by citizen lobby, credit is still due.
Over the years Barbadians have marvelled at how Mrs Ram Mirchandani seemingly was allowed to transgressed laws designed to protect. For example, how was she allowed to operate the Liquidation Centre on Lower Bay Street and in the process impede traffic caused by lorries and bobcats engaged in loading and offloading activities in the left lane? What about the hotel at Oldbury in St. Philip built with a Games Room which many believe was deficient if safety and health rules were to be applied? What is the purpose of our regulatory bodies anyway?
To understand what has contributed to Mrs Ram being able to acquire wealth in Barbados, one has to appreciate she is a past President of the Barbados Manufacturers Association and has had a close association with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce. No doubt she has contributed to the coffers of both political parties and the media has long held the lady who wears the sari in awe because of the alacrity she is willing to sue. If you are able to win favour from the political directorate and Fourth Estate then the path is clear to do whatsoever will.
Kudos to Minister Donville Inniss who must have given his consent for the public health offers to make the move.