Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Wanted: A more efficient airport


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After ten years with no management other than mismanagement of this country, I’m sure most of the private sector has been encouraged by the words, actions and results of the new Barbados Labour Party Administration in general, and Prime Minister Mia Mottley, in particular, in the very short weeks they have been in office. 

“Start as you intend to finish” is a fine old Bajan proverb that comes to mind and I wish them the perseverance and endurance they, and we, will surely need.

On June 26, I entered the Grantley Adams International Airport on a Virgin Atlantic flight from the UK. As is customary, I filled out the antiquated Immigration and Customs declaration forms and passed through the well staffed and efficient Immigration booths easily. I then collected my luggage in a reasonable time and joined the green “Nothing To Declare” Customs queue. The red “Goods To Declare” lanes were empty. 

There were six customs officers at the red kiosks with no passengers. There were two officers at the green kiosks collecting ridiculous Customs forms that trees died unnecessarily to provide for no one to read, and a slow-moving queue of over 100 passengers.

At no time did any official redirect passengers to the available kiosks to move passengers along efficiently. I was, once again, embarrassed to be a Bajan.

Having already this year passed through Customs and Immigration departments of Guyana, Antigua, St Vincent, Spain, Italy, Korea and UK without witnessing or experiencing any kind of inefficiency or interruption, it brought home two points: 1) our antiquated systems and procedures created by bureaucrats for bureaucrats with no practical problem-solving skills need to be flushed from our culture if we are to make any progress into the modern world, and 2) simply throwing more staff and financial resources at problems created by a broken public sector that abhors efficient management is not going to dig Barbados out of our hole.

I suggest an immediate work experience exchange programme between the public and private sectors to give both partners in “Barbados Inc.” a better understanding of, and solutions to, problems we both face daily.



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