Friday, April 19, 2024

MONDAY MAN: Randolph on the ride of his life

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FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS, he has been pedalling his way through Bridgetown and telling the world about its history.
Pedicab rider Randolph Griffith, who has been riding for almost ten years, started on the streets of London, working in Piccadilly, and also had a stint in Manhattan, as well as Canada. Four years ago he started riding in Bridgetown after he returned to the island.
The tour takes one through the history and the culture of Barbados, the Jewish Synagogue, Cheapside Public Market, St Mary’s Anglican Church, Heroes Square, the Parliament Buildings and the museum of Parliament, and Griffith who is well versed in the culture, history and heritage of the island shares what he knows with people from all over the world.
Griffith said he has spent many hours in the library researching the history of Barbados. He is also proud of the fact that he is able to interact with people from all over the world and from different cultures because he has lived in about six different countries.
“I can react to any person in the world, whether you are English, Canadian, Mexican, [or] from France, Germany. Regardless of where you are from I can talk to you,” Griffith said.
Griffith said 90 per cent of his customers come from the cruise liners. He said though the tourist season does not get into full swing until December, he is already fully booked for October, November and December.
He said that during the downtime of the tourist season he does not see offering the services to the local population as a feasible option.
“Barbadian people are very funny people; they do not like what I do. They think it goes back in history with the trade and they say no black man had any right riding white people up and down,” he said.
However, he is not in agreement with the concept and said that riding a cab, wherever you do it, is a multimillion-dollar industry.
Griffith tries to give visitors to the island a most pleasurable experience of the island and he said his tours are usually successful and he gets great compliments. He has a book in which people he has taken on tours have left their comments on the experience. Griffith said it makes him feel so good to read the comments. “I keep that book very near to my heart,” he said.
Griffith said he loves his job more than anything. “It may seem to people that it is hard and difficult but to me it is not. I would do it every day,” he said.
However, Griffith said things in the Barbados tourist industry are very slow right now but that is because of high taxes that are driving the tourists to seek out other destinations in the Caribbean. If the Government would lower taxes at the seaport and the airport, our tourism business would bloom, he said, adding that it does not make sense that a ship should have to pay ridiculous amount to dock here compared with what is paid in St Lucia, Grenada and St Vincent.
However, he said a worry to him is during peak times when several ships are in port at once and there is an absence of police on the beaches and in town. Griffith said many people believe that tourists come here with a lot of money but a lot them do not and the police need to protect them from people who would seek to do them harm. He called for the Royal Barbados Police Force to be present more on the beaches to protect the tourists from being robbed or taken advantage of.
He suggested that Customs and Immigration officers at the ports should show more “love” in their jobs, and that National Conservation Commission beach rangers also needed to be trained in how to interact with tourists, since many tourists could be turned off by the way people respond to them.
“There are a lot of people who do not know how to deal with tourists. When a cruise visitor comes to the island, they come for only one day, not a month or a long time. They need to [be shown] what Barbados is, because right now it is being described as a horrible place,” Griffith said.

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