Dr. Fraser- Point of View
December 23, 2004
It is Christmas time

Well, in a few days it will be Christmas, the day we have all been waiting for, Christians and non-Christians alike. But things are so different these days. There is little about Christ left in Christmas. Christmas is about making money and spending money, ensuring that you have those goodies normally associated with Christmas or the things of which you were deprived throughout the year. {{more}}We now evaluate Christmas based on how much business was generated. Sunday shopping is becoming an accepted way of life; even the arguments about the purpose of the Lord’s Day seem to have disappeared. This is not surprising since as I am suggesting Christ is being removed from Christmas.

The country goes crazy around this time. People descend into Kingstown, often not shopping but walking, bumping in to each other and in some cases stealing. Christmas is the best time of year for some people, often not for the right reasons. I am of the view that Christmas today is a conspiracy hatched by the business community, not necessarily I might add, the Vincentian business community. You will note that every year the season begins earlier and earlier. Christmas music is now heard in October. The people behind it, the media and the business people, invite us to begin our shopping early. Someone once said that today children do not associate milk with cows. In their view milk is what you get from the supermarkets. In the same way, had it not been for Christmas carols, there would be little to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. Other songs, with a different kind of focus, are replacing even the traditional Christmas hymns.

With Christmas comes hustle, from the pickpocket to the mini-van driver, hoping to capitalise on the madness and at the same time adding to the madness. This manifests itself clearly in the traffic confusion. But it must be stated, that at least in Kingstown, pedestrians constitute the major traffic problem. The situation at the crossing between the Police Headquarters and the Market is a case in point. If you are not careful and on the alert while driving across that area you can, especially between 8 and 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., spend long periods of time waiting on pedestrians, many of whom walk leisurely across, sometimes stopping to speak to someone nearby. A similar thing happens between Corea’s and Building and Loan when there is no police around. It is even worse there because you have to face two traffic crossings. I am quite aware that the traffic lights issue is a sign of political contention. There is, in my view, no other way but to use traffic lights and at some point we will have to come back to them.

I hope the authorities are doing some serious planning with regard to dealing with the traffic problem. There is nothing more frustrating than driving around Kingstown between 4 and 4:30 p.m. This is not the only source of frustration. Arnos Vale, especially at the Roundabout in the mornings and from Sion Hill to Arnos Vale in the afternoons, could drive one stone crazy. It is hard to imagine what it will be like in five years if it is not seriously addressed. But we cannot wait five years. We have to start putting things in place now. There are other things that compound the problem that should never be allowed to happen. Why are vehicles belonging to Voyager’s and Courts allowed to stop in the lane in front of their building obstructing the flow of traffic? To make the situation worse, passengers are constantly being let off on the traffic side of the street. I am surprised that there has as yet not been an accident. All of these are bad throughout the year but they all come together at Christmas time. Our attitude appears to be one that suggests that these are all associated with this time of year and that little can be done about them. But clearly this is not so. They are daily occurrences but manifested more clearly during the Christmas rush.

There are a number of things we can do to make life easier for our citizens especially the poorer ones. The most appalling one is at the Treasury. Workers from all parts of the country and the Grenadines go regularly to the Treasury to collect payment for work done. It is a horrifying moment when poor people pay their money to get to Kingstown, and to go to the Treasury only to be told that their payments are not ready. Sometimes, they would have to stand for a long time in the lane only to receive the bad news when they eventually succeed in getting to the front. If they are from Fancy or Chateaubelair, it means paying between $8 and $10 return for an unsuccessful mission. It involves another trip to Kingstown and another $8 or $10 with the hope, this time, of a successful mission. Can this system not be reorganised to remove the burden that these people face? Of course, it is the poorer people who live by the occasional road-work they might get, who face this most.

Then the system of inspection and the licensing of your vehicle! Sometimes I want to believe that we are not living in this century. Can the system not be reorganised to make it easier for our people? You go to Arnos Vale to get your vehicle inspected. This probably means being in a long line. You get your papers indicating that your vehicle was inspected and then there is the other long line at the Inland Revenue department. Is there a problem having vehicles inspected and licenses paid at different times of the year based on birth date or date on which the vehicle was bought or by some other method? There might be problems involved with this. There would have to be, since we still cling to this archaic system.

There are many other things that can be done to make life easier for all of us but no one seems to be paying attention to what on the surface appears to be a simple matter. We go for what we consider the bigger picture because it brings more publicity. Isn’t there a connection with the many health problems we are having today, problems from stress, particularly?