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“Lack of transportation hurts trade, culture”
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“Lack of transportation hurts trade, culture”

Transportation facilitates trade, writes Aura Whittier, 17, a Correspondent from San Juan, Trinidad. Trade exists within, between and among economies, yet none of this is possible without transportation.

It is no secret that the transportation systems in most Caribbean islands are inadequate. While citizens do complain, and governments do sometimes try to address the issue, not enough is done. An inefficient transportation system has serious implications, beyond those generally discussed in debate.

Without transportation, not only is the transfer of economic commodities hindered, but also the transfer of ideas and culture is deterred. Culture, ideas, relationships, and community are all at risk with inefficient, unreliable and or inaccessible transportation systems.

In the Caribbean, transportation is vital. Islands are interdependent and inter-island trade is prominent. Each country is dependent on others to purchase its exports as well as to be a source of imports. Without efficient, reliable, sufficient and affordable transportation, economic activity in the Caribbean will suffer. This is important. Yet, this is not most important.

Caribbean relationships, community, and culture will also suffer. This is more important. As the Caribbean, we are one. Our ideas, our cultures, our experiences are a part of all of us and that is what makes us Caribbean. We must stay connected and support each other. Without transport links, we cannot communicate with each other, support each other and learn from each other. We will become distant, learn from other countries, support other countries and depend on other countries. Our Caribbean spirit will fade away.

Most important is the community within our twin and multi-island countries. Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Bahamas, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos are all at risk. As I am from Trinidad and Tobago, I can speak for my country. We are at risk.

For the majority of 2017, there has been a shortage of water transportation vessels traveling between the islands. This has caused an excess demand, beyond what air transportation can supply to and from each island. To make matters worse, those who cannot afford air transport simply cannot travel.

The government has yet to seriously address this issue and often, there are complaints being lodged by citizens through newspapers, radio and other media. Citizens cannot visit family and cannot conduct business. If this persists, eventually families with members on each island will drift apart, inter island business relationships will dissolve and the population on each island will become more independent rather than interdependent.

Culture will no longer fuse but separate, and Trinidad and Tobago will become ‘Trinidad’ and ‘Tobago’. “Together we aspire, together we achieve” is at risk of becoming a thing people say on Independence Day, but no longer a motto that we live by. We will lose our unique twin island community.

For the sake of our nation, and all other Caribbean nations, transportation needs to be improved within each island and between the islands. This is because a lack of transportation means a lack of trade, and means a lack of togetherness.

Photo credit: Ajay Rameshwarsingh  Instagram: ajays_vp

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About me: I am a business student and a future developmental economist hopeful. I love to learn about and analyse social issues and how they relate to my study, but also to my own underlying ethical values. I have a keen interest in youth empowerment, involvement and development. As such, I spend the majority my free time tutoring disadvantaged youth and participating in self-development youth programs. Of course, I also spend a significant amount of time reading and writing.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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