By Hudson George
Helping Grenadians back home is a very good thing to do, but it is important for those of us in the Diaspora to try and help them change their laid backward mentality and the old colonial ways of doing business. And when I say laid back mentality, I do not mean that they are lazy. I think that they must give up the outdated ways of doing things, so that Grenada will not remain underdeveloped for citizens to keep waiting for hands out from foreign countries.
Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers
My reason for raising this issue is because I observed there are some simple things that can be changed to make Grenada livelier in terms of movements of people. For example, on Sundays in the outer parishes, people tend to close down their businesses and sit back doing nothing. And if a group of people want to travel on a minibus on Sundays to take them to the beach and other places of fun and live entertainment activities, the bus owners will automatically raise the price; and if you ask them why they raise the price, they will tell you that they do not run their bus routes on Sundays, but because it is a public holiday, they have to raise the price, when taking passengers to and from a specific destination.
I remember in 2007, I was in Grenada on vacation and somebody in my neighbourhood was running their minibus from Hermitage to Bathway beach and it was a Sunday. So I decided to travel on that bus trip to get to the beach. I was excited to make that trip, because there were live music entertainment activities taking place. I wanted to enjoy a good time, because Bathway is known as the people's beach, where all kinds of local activities usually take place. As a matter of fact Bathway Beach is famous for locals and foreigners to have picnics throughout the year.
However, that Sunday, the owner of the bus was making numerous trips to and from Bathway and the bus price for that route on the week days was two dollars to go and two dollars to return. I took the bus to go to the beach. However, when I arrived at the Bathway, the bus driver began to collect his passengers’ fares. I took out five dollars from my pocket and gave him expecting to get my change, but to my great surprise he did not give me any change. So I asked him for my three dollars change and he said to me, because it is a Sunday, the bus price has raised. I was disappointed and angry with his explanation, but I kept my cool. The other passengers paid the five dollars fare without questioning why they should pay more money than the normal bus fare.
As I walked towards the entertainment areas on the beach, I sort of got the feeling that Grenadians are not changing with modern times. I thought about the young people who paid the bus driver five dollars to get to the beach. I wonder why they are not rebelling against that kind of exploitation. Then I said to myself maybe it is because I left Grenada for many years my attitude has changed. However, even though my attitude must have changed, I think it is for the better. And if Grenadians can only change their attitude from the way they keep doing a lot of things of importance, the country will make great prosperity.
I remember I called into a radio station programme and complained about the exploitation of passengers by bus owners on holidays and the radio host made further inquiry for me on the matter, but it seems as though those in authority are as old school as the bus owners, because they are not trying to put an end to that form of exploitation. And as long as the government allows bus owners to exploit passengers during public holidays and Sundays, Grenada will remain backward.
In addition, it is not only me alone who observed the selfishness by bus drivers on public holidays. Just recently, I was talking to some young Grenadians who visited the island in August 2013 and they told me that they were disappointed in the way bus drivers exploit passengers during the carnival celebrations, without the government trying to intervene on the passenger’s behalf. They told me that some minibus divers double the route price and claimed that they had a right to do so, because it was carnival celebration and not regular working days trips.
Additionally, the exploitative behavior of bus owners toward the masses of Grenadian people is not an isolated case. In the rural areas of Grenada people need to change the way they look at life in general, if they want to advance themselves. They need to listen to individuals with vision, who want to make changes, if not the world will turn on them.
Grenadians who own minibuses belong to different political parties. Their main goal is to make money because there is no public transport system to commute passengers across the island. And even though some homes might have two and three vehicles, people still need to travel on passenger buses throughout the week, regardless of whether or not it is a holiday.
Personally, I do not know if those who are in authority want to please church leaders with the Sunday law issue or else they are still caught up in the old colonial ways of believing that Sunday is not a day for citizens to move around in a sort of business environment. But for those of us who are living in the Diaspora, when we visit Grenada, we see something is wrong with this old ways of being laid back on Sundays and if we want to go somewhere we have to pay the minibus double price fare.
In conclusion, it is important for folks back home to know that those of us who are living in the Diaspora have to hustle and bustle to make a dollar, to pay bills, buy food, clothes and still send remittances back home. Therefore, if the government and people in North America, Britain, Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela had stupid outdated transportation rules as Grenada, I wonder how those of us who reside in those counties would have been able to move around and seek employment to get money to help folks back home.
And even though I am not the type of person who practices religious rituals by praying every day, I do not condemn those who like to pray on every occasion, when they have to do something of importance. However, I know a lot of Grenadians like to pray, but it seems as though their prayers are not reaching God’s ears. If their prayers were reaching God's ears, I am sure he would give them the wisdom and understanding to think beyond the old colonial box. But then again, I wonder why in some other countries where the vast majority of people do not practice religion, they have the vision to make positive changes for the betterment of their society; and these same countries are ones; giving assistance to Grenada in terms of health, housing, education and finances?