Calling a spade a spade

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The walkway linking Heritage Quay to Redcliffe Quay is in a dreadful state of disrepair.  Seems, Emperor Nero, the Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Works and the great, wonderful Global Ports, have all been fiddling while the Quay burned, so to speak. Folks, we’re talking about our most important seaport entry to St. John’s. It ought to be in tip-top shape. After all, first impressions are important, they are lasting. Sadly, cluelessness abounds in high places. It is the two-bit coin of the realm! We cannot fathom why, during the layoff in the cruise sector on account of Covid-19, the geniuses did not make an effort to effect repairs to the beleaguered boardwalk.

The boardwalk was damaged during Hurricane Irma, four years ago. That’s right! Four long years, and this pretentious ‘economic powerhouse’ could not come up with the few dollars needed to complete the repairs as a matter of urgency. Chupz! This administration (or whoever is in charge of the boardwalk) allowed an important part of how we raise foreign exchange, and how so many Antiguans earn their livelihoods, to rot. Talk about twisted thinking!

Anyway, there was an interesting story entitled BOARDWALK REPAIRS CANNOT COME SOON ENOUGH, SAY STRUGGLING REDCLIFFE QUAY TRADERS in yesterday’s DAILY OBSERVER. In it, our managing editor, Gemma Handy, chronicles the pain and frustration of Redcliffe Quay vendors who bemoan the dearth in cruise pedestrian traffic. For example, one art vendor by the name of Stephen Murphy, dispiritedly told Gemma that he’d only made US$35.00 this past Thursday, never mind that there was a big cruise vessel in the port. Said the frustrated vendor, “Until they make those repairs, we’re going to have a problem . . .”  Another shop owner in the area shared, “Since ships have been coming back, we have barely seen anyone off them.” Hmmmm! On account of the shabby boardwalk, foot traffic to Redcliffe Quay from Heritage Quay is negligible.

Interestingly, the aforementioned Stephen Murphy was not done with his indictment of this feckless Administration. Said he, “I understand if someone trips and falls on the boardwalk, it will cause an issue, but closing it makes no sense when the whole of St John’s is in the same state.”Ouch!!! Talk about calling a spade a spade! The sad reality is that the entire city of St. John’s is a decaying and unsightly mess. From Country Pond to Market Street; from the old Roman Catholic Church on Independence Avenue to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda; from the Sir V C Bird bust at Market Square, to that of Kwaku Takyi on Independence Avenue, all we can see is disorder and dilapidation. The few monuments and busts that we have are victims of neglect – a big lack of historical pride.

There has been much talk about rehabilitating St. John’s, but it is all “sounding brass and tinkling symbol” – “much sound and fury, signifying nothing.”Those in high places ought to be ashamed ofthemselves – the broken sidewalks, the awful gutters, the horrid roads, the missing grates and covers. The abundance of rats and other vermin. Travelling in St John’s, much like travelling on the damaged boardwalk, is an existential threat. Pedestrians must step gingerly. According to Stephen Murphy, if the administration is closing the boardwalk because of possible “trips and falls,” then they may as well close all of the once-beautiful city of St John’s. . . . because the self-same treacherous conditions prevail everywhere.

There is a saying that, “A wound gets worse when it is treated with neglect.” We agree. The gaping wounds all over St John’s are getting worse on account of apathy. And as for the recent chatter about reviving St John’s, we do not hold out much hope that that will ever happen under this hapless regime – a regime quite adept at running its mouth ad nauseam, but not much else. Just ask Mr Peter Kelsick, an iconic Antiguan with a deep and abiding love for this country – its beaches, its flora and fauna, its historic buildings and monuments, and the now-faded capital city of St John’s. He is dismayed at what he sees. As are we. He has seen the callousness, and heard all the disingenuousness talk before. That’s why he regularly voices his concerns as to our decrepitude with so much disgust. He calls a spade a spade!

May we hearken to those voices that care.

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