Wednesday, April 24, 2024

AWRIGHT DEN!: Vendors and PSVs


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Last week’s WEEKEND Nation was filled with many interesting articles and I want to use this opportunity to comment on two of them.
The illegal shack.
We live in a really interesting society that has a quite bizarre interpretation, regulation and imposition of rules and law. Vendor Herbert Courtland has been selling in a location, which I can only assume to be an unauthorised spot, for many years. Unauthorised vending can be viewed as an acceptable practice since it is a consistent and growing activity throughout The City and nation.
Since the green space off the Constitution River was completed, I believe Mr Courtland also decided to enhance his business in preparation for the potential of increased traffic and sales by building a shack, in the same area he has operated for years. Unfortunately, that shack had to be moved because “no illegal structures were to be erected there”.
Here is my concern. For years we have failed to consistently and properly administer the law and regulations that govern our activities as citizens. As a result, we, as a people, have developed an attitude and paradigm that ignores order, protocol and procedure. We see it in our driving, with our children and school rules and only recently I wrote about the selling of eggs and other products on the sides of the highway.
Leadership is to blame for this. How can we allow these practices to develop and continue as a norm and then choose when, where and who we will administer discipline to.
I cannot blame Herbert Courtland for his decision to seize an opportunity and build the structure, even though I disapprove of his actions. After all, you see many blocks and communities with illegal structures and no one is dismantling their “shacks”. Only last year or year before, the former minister of housing wanted to provide squatters in The Belle with homes. Imagine that!
Can Mr Courtland’s situation be classified as a case of “victimisation” since there are many other “illegal structures” throughout The City and country that have not been dismantled although there are all governed by similar regulations?
The law is for all and is established to maintain order and to develop a sense of discipline and respect in the people it governs. Create an adequate, comfortable and relevant space for our vendors and I am sure the problem of illegal vending would be minimised. I have been to many international cities and have not seen any illegal vending on the streets. It can be done. Where the law isn’t enforced, lawlessness and disorder will prevail.
The PSV uniform saga
It is human nature to immediately celebrate achievements and policies that lead to order and structure. Many Barbadians lauded the decision to have public service vehicle (PSV) operators wear uniforms again, along with their ID badges conspicuously displayed on the front of their shirts.
This initiative isn’t a first and even though I was happy to hear it being reintroduced, I was more concerned as to how long it would last and how it would be regulated.
During the first couple days, I purposely checked to see if the operators I passed while on my commute were indeed wearing the shirt and the badge. Most, if not all, were. This week, on the other hand, was completely different as more and more could be seen inappropriately dressed for work.
Once again, here lies our problem. We struggle to enforce the laws and we as a people are failing to abide by them. Yes, there are times when you mess up but it seems we deliberately have no regard for order and this distasteful attitude will eventually be applied to other areas of our lives.
My other concern is the amount of PSV operators who stop by shops while transporting the public, some of whom are children, to buy alcohol, which they consume on their journey. ZR drivers are famous for Guinness and Heineken and Transport Board drivers are famous for shots of rum. One driver intoxicated is too many and I am one who welcomes breathalyser tests. These bad apples are giving those decent, professional, hard-working drivers and conductors a bad name.
• Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.


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