The furore about all terrain vehicles (ATV) in Barbados is typically Bajan. Never slow to cry when the horse has bolted from the stable and the door was found to have been taken off for 'routine maintenance', we hear the proverbial wailing after a horrible accident at the weekend that took two young men's lives when their ATVs crashed with a Transport Board bus. So, today, we have the two main newspapers drawing attention to the loopholes all over the place concerning ATVs (see Advocate editorial). The bottom line suggestion in the Advocate seems appropriate: 'We therefore call on the Licensing Authority to take ATVs off the roads until these oversights are addressed'.
If Barbados was some banana republic or classified as a 'failed state' everyone would be saying "What do you expect? Someone must be on the take? How else can you explain this kind of wanton disregard for simple precautionary behaviour?" But, because the country is on the cusp of developed status, such remarks do not come forward so readily; at least not so loudly as you may hear. But, I did hear such mutterings today.
But, memories are really short here and I have yet to come across a concern that has been met with action in anything like this side of a half decade. Let time heal it, man. Let's think about planning for next year's Crop Over.
One thing that seems sure is that the obvious lessons to be learned from the experience of others is often the direction that Barbados WILL NOT go. There is a terrible stubbornness when it comes to doing it anything but 'the Bajan' way. That often means doing diddly squat but having a good long groan about it.
What is so bizarre is that this is a country so riven with rules that one wonders if there are hidden rules about the number of pleats that are needed in men's undershirts.
You need a licence to ride a bicycle. I am surprised that insurance is not also required. I can only think that this was seen as some wheeze to get a bit of extra fee income into the government's coffers. There are so few bikes on the road that you have to scratch your head about why the licensing is needed. Why no proficiency test to make sure that I can really ride this 'vehicle of death'?
But this is the country where I cannot renew my daughter's library card unless I bring the old card back in. I asked why, joking that it was to stop the little mite from taking out 3 books instead of 2. Guess what? The librarian agreed with me! My five year old would fall out of her crib with laughter. I told them that I would send her in after she gets released from Dodds Prison for the latest bit of larceny that she perpetrated: I think she took an extra handful of chips from the kitchen.
I would be much happier if all of this silliness was associated with the things you can find in Switzerland, another land of rules, but at least there's lots of great Swiss things that one can point to that have come from that. Roger Federer is of course not legislated, but natural.
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