Welcome

Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Is This Island Full of Crazies?

I have determined, after a mere two days back in Barbados, that living here is truly living in the land of the surreal. Why? I will share two stories.

One in today’s Nation: The Urban Development Corporation is looking for "missing houses". How does a development agency of any sector lose its developments? Have aliens sneaked in and whisked them away like the thieves in Jamaica who stole sand from the beach? A special housing officer has been mandated to seek then out and determine their condition. Go, Rover! In the same edition, we read about the continued development boom on the island’s west coast. Presumably, these buildings will not disappear and need to be found. What the….!These are not the paper and balsa wood houses built by children, but concrete and steel structures we're talking about; you can't tuck them into your pocket and walk off the island. But, wait, with all the financial sector bubbles being burst, don't tell me that we have some real assets that are now not real. Not sure if the picture I took some weeks ago is of one of the lost houses.

The second, told to me by a friend, sounds like a joke but she swore that it really happened. She called the Licensing Authority (LA) and explained to the man who answered that she was an expatriate, living in the island for a year now, whose visitor’s driving permit was due to expire and wanted to know how to get a permanent driving permit. She knew that in the last budget, the visitors’ permits now cost B$100 instead of the previous B$10, and that instead of a year’s duration now had only a two month validity. “You need to get a learner’s permit”, came the reply. “What?” asked my friend, “I know how to drive and I have been doing it for 30 years in my own country and for a year since I came to Barbados. Why do I need to learn to drive again?” Of course, the pause. “You need to get the learner’s permit and only drive with an instructor by your side.” My friend was last heard banging her head loudly on her kitchen counter, mumbling “One, two, three…” I mentioned this to a policemen I know, who told me that he would help transport the person in the Licensing Authority to the mental home in his squad car. Of course, trying to get a clear answer from the LA Law proved impossible, and the 'up to date' information provided by government websites are all out of date, still referring to the pre-budget arrangements. Hello! Is anyone running the country? In case you want to check the blank pages on the Barbados Government Integrated Portal [BGIP] (see the website); be gypped. Disgrace to see a big fat blank page under "Licensing Authority Highlights"!

2 comments:

Chiharu said...

Hello. Randomly came across your site and read some of your postings. Very interesting. As for the driver's permit, I was there at the end of December 08 and paid $10 for a one year permit. I had understood before my travel that the fee was raised to $100 so it was to my great relief that I didn't have to pay that much! It this supposed to be effective as of January 08?

Dennis Jones said...

Licensing Authority (436 4920) say:

Visitors' driving permit:B$10/3 months or B$100/12 months. If you are living on the island as opposed to visiting periodically, you can get a 'transfer licence': B$50/12months, needing to show other licence, Barbados ID card (or 'evidence' that you are allowed to live and work in the country).