The past week has unearthed some bright sparks in Grenada as a result of the emergence of some new blood due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The individual of the week for THE NEW TODAY is the President of the National Bus Association (NBA), Garth Woodroffe who distinguished himself as a very articulate leader of a section of the population that many used to scorn over the years.
COVID-19 has brought forward a new national leader from a most unexpected source – the busmen of the nation.
Mr. Woodroffe got Grenadians to listen to him on Monday as he put forward a most telling case for all the busmen including owners, drivers, conductors and their family members in the face of hostility by some sections of the population who unfortunately lambasted them as being greedy and selfish for asking for a small increase as little as $0.50.
It was the Keith Mitchell-led government who was left most embarrassing by the revelation that busmen were offered in most cases $17.00 and $23.00 per trip to take Essential workers like nurses to and from work and back home which is way below the $20.00 that a taxi driver will charge passengers for a very short drop.
This is quite shocking for anyone who decides to get serious and compare the pittance with the type of monies that Prime Minister Mitchell and the ruling New National Party (NNP) give out every week to busmen to transport their supporters during election campaigns to stay in power.
The same busmen are paid $300 to $600.00 each Sunday to transport the “Green Machine” brigade to rallies around the island.
It should also be noted that a taxi driver will charge EC$50.00 to take a single person from the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) to Paddock – a distance of about six miles for the most.
No government should feel proud of itself by “blackmailing” the busmen at a time of crisis to transport Essential Workers especially in the COVID-19 period for what amounts to peanuts.
The Prime Minister should rise to the occasion and give those busmen who heeded the call “a golden handshake” at some point in the future when the finances of the State has improved.
It is no wonder that Mr. Woodroffe has come forward as a breath of fresh air when Grenadians are looking for new leadership.
The NBA President has emerged by far as the most intelligent and articulate leader to have come from any bus association on the island in the past 35 years.
Mr. Woodroffe has struck us as one who is well schooled, educated and very knowledgeable and is by no means a rabble-rouser but demonstrated that he is well read and prepared himself more than adequately with facts to put forward the case on behalf of the busmen.
It is quite unfortunate that persons of his caliber have not been serving within the nation’s highest decision making body, the Houses of Parliament especially in the Lower House.
THE NEW TODAY is confident that this young man will put to shame some of the current Members of Parliament who have sat in this august body for years with little or no contribution to national development.
Mr. Woodroffe who is from the south of the island has definitely put to shame some of the persons who have been given portfolios to be government ministers by the NNP leadership over the years to chart the way forward for the education of our young people.
THE NEW TODAY would upset many but the NBA President has demonstrated that he is a cut above the likes of Laurina Waldron and Emmalin Pierre who have quite unfortunately been given serious and important portfolios of Ministers of Education in the country.
This is a young man who should be protected as the NNP will seek to either coerce him with money or undertake a mission to destroy him as part of the One Party State agenda to kill off opposition to their hegemony.
The other person who caught our attention this past week was Mr. Terry Noel, the newly appointed Senator by Opposition Leader, Tobias Clement.
Mr. Noel struck a positive note with the pronouncement that he intends to use the platform of the Upper House to push forward an agenda for rural development with agriculture at the core as was done years ago by former Opposition Leader, Michael Baptiste but with little success under the NNP regime.
The coronavirus has exposed the folly of the economic policy pursued by Dr. Mitchell over the years.
The focus has been on passport selling which is now dead and the building of hotels in the tourism industry which has taken a bad and serious hit as a result of COVID-19.
The NNP policy has left rural Grenada poor and under-developed and forced the people in the countryside to migrate into the city centre and environs to look for jobs in order to take care of their families.
The collapse of tourism has put thousands of people out of work and created more hungry mouths in rural Grenada as agriculture has been put on the backburner for years in the northern side of the island.
Mr. Noel has been provided with an opportunity to walk the talk about the need to highlight and promote the development of rural Grenada over the next two years as a Senator.
The time has come to expose those Members of Parliament from impoverished constituencies starting in St. John into St. David who have remained silent while Prime Minister Mitchell continues to pursue an anti-rural development agenda centered on passport selling and the building of hotels.
An exciting period could be in the making in Grenada as COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for a new generation of younger leaders to emerge with a different mindset from the old and tired leaders to take the country into a new era.