Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Upgrading terminal waste of funds

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WHILE I AGREE that the state of public transportation in Bridgetown needs to be upgraded, I cannot help but feel that any funds expended on upgrading the River Bus terminal will be funds wasted.

It has been too long that the travelling public has had to walk the length of the City, between Fairchild Street, the River and the Lower Green, to make their way across the island. It occurs to me that a single bus terminal on the Lower Green would lend itself not only to public convenience, but also be a paradigm shift in the integration and regulation of public transport in Bridgetown, as Transport Board, minibuses and route taxis would operate out of a single terminal.

I would like to point out at this juncture that I am not convinced that Bridgetown necessarily needs to be the central hub of our national transport system. A more central location, maybe in St Thomas, might be more optimal for our sustainable development.

Similarly, I would suggest that all of the public market activities need to be consolidated in the area of Cheapside. Once again consumers would be able to access all fresh produce, meats and fish within very close proximity and have access to transportation that is easy and convenient.

The establishment of a craft market along Trevor’s Way would expose our cruise visitors to all of the various items that are produced by our local artists and craftsmen, as they make their way to and from Bridgetown.

Once these changes have taken place, it would mean that the lands currently occupied by the Fairchild Street Terminal and public market as well as the River Terminal, would naturally become vacant.

This area can be utilised to construct a marina that would stretch as far as Queen’s Park or beyond. This marina would provide safe harbour for visiting small to medium-sized yachts during the winter and spring seasons when this demand will be at its height, and also protect the local fishing fleet during the hurricane season as the need arises.

The creation of the marina in this area will promote an aspect to the local tourism and general commerce as yachts will start to include Barbados in the itinerary of their Caribbean cruises as they take advantage of our duty-free shopping and well established infrastructure.

After building this marina, extending the boardwalk along its southern side to connect Independence Square to Queen’s Park, allocating areas for small street performances, bars and specialty food stalls would go a long way toward creating opportunities for our young artists and entrepreneurs to interact with our visitors and nationals in an environment that is both relaxed and regulated.

The construction of hotels along Bay Street, as part of the Pierhead Redevelopment Project, will complement the above and have the effect of creating an oasis of calm and relaxation in the heart of the City.

Consideration should also be given to the renovation of the Empire Theatre, as the headquarters for the arts of Barbados. Both live performances and exhibitions would enhance the access of our artistes to an international market and allow our visitors to experience the many talents of our population.

Obviously, the safety of everyone utilising these facilities and the facilities themselves will be paramount to the sustainability of this development. Therefore, strict guidelines governing the activities that can be accommodated and a code of conduct for the area will have to be developed and rigorously enforced.

The above represents a long-term, big-picture vision that will not be achieved all at once. However, careful planning and the input our historians, engineers and general population will result in a future Bridgetown that the world will be proud of.

– KARL ST JOHN

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