Supporters of the main opposition New Democratic Party on Saturday walked most of the 25 miles from Fitz Hughes to the NDP’s headquarters in Kingstown to highlight crime and joblessness in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The walk, which was led by party president and opposition leader, Godwin Friday, is the first of its kind, with another slated from Georgetown to Kingstown — a 22-mile distance – next Saturday.
“We are walking for jobs, that is, to protest the joblessness, especially for young people in this country. We are walking against crime,” Friday told iWitness News in Pembroke around 2 p.m., after the group had walked some 20 miles.
He said the event was an historic one.
“… it is the first time a political party I know of in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has ever organised an event of this sort,” said Friday, who is Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines.
“And the reason for doing so is to dramatise and highlight the problems of joblessness in this country and the problem of crime, particularly violent crime.
“We have walked, we have put ourselves, our bodies on the line to emphasise how important we believe in the people in this country — we believe we are in touch with this country — believe that this matter is of national urgency and importance,” Friday said.
The walk took place on a day when the maximum temperature was 30.7 degrees Celsius and relative humidity 70 per cent.
The walk was interrupted by at least one heavy downpour that met the group in Layou.
Friday told iWitness News that the group walked most of the way from Fitz Hughes but drove through the uninhabited areas.
“But most of the distance, we have walked through; we have put our bodies on the line,” he said, adding that the participants were tired as they neared the end.
“… but they are persevering because we want to make the point that this is a matter of commitment. And you can’t show your commitment unless you are ready to complete the journey. We are doing that symbolically today. We have committed ourselves as a political party to do that for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the first chance we get we are delivering on that.”
Friday said that the reaction to the walk from people whom participants met along the way was positive.
“People have come out and greeted us, people have come, they have given us drinks, they have embraced us, they want to see us as part of the community.”
He said even people who didn’t know they were having the walk came to support when they saw the group.
“There is a dramatic story, a very touching story, of this elderly lady who came down. She couldn’t walk in this walk from Fitz Hughes to town and she came and she had five dollars in her hand. She said, ‘Ah cyar walk because me knees ain’t good, but here is $5 to show my commitment and support for what you are doing’,” he said, recounting an incident in the Central Leeward town of Barrouallie.
Friday said the experience was telling and “shows that people understand the urgency and the need for action to be taken and they realise that the government is not doing so, especially on the matter of crime.
“The government is sort of kicking the ball down the road, blaming other people, distinguishing one event from another and saying the opposition is trying to make this matter into fear mongering or scaremongering. This is not the case because the people in the country they are telling us that this is what they are fearful of.
“People we met on the way told me this, that this is a matter they are concerned about. So, this is why we are taking this step to dramatise this issue…”
Regarding the people who argue whether such activities contribute to reducing crime, Friday said these people are “arguing with themselves because I am not arguing with them.
“Here, what we are doing, at least we are doing something to heighten the public awareness of it. If you have a problem, you can’t solve it unless you acknowledge there is a problem. The government does not acknowledge that crime is a problem. Let us face that. They do not acknowledge that crime is a problem in this country. They say everybody else is making it out to be worse than it is. Well, all you have to do is go and talk to people in the country.”
He said that is why people have said and he endorse and says himself, “the prime minister is out of touch on this issue. He is out of touch on many issues but this would dramatise the distance between him and the people he professes to govern.”
At a press conference last Monday, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves chanted down the anti-crime, pro-jobs walk, saying if crime in SVG were as bad as the Opposition Leader makes it out to be, Friday would not dare walk against crime.
“Now, if you are truly saying that the criminals have overtaken the country and are overrunning it, you will be asking that the police force come out in their numbers to give you protection along the way and you hire Guardsman, you hire Famo, you hire all the security available because things are so difficult in this country and are so violent and the police are overrun so much that Friday and his men and women can’t walk from Chateaubelair to town, because they’re so fearful,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security.
How many walkers were there? This photo suggests that this was another poorly attended NDP stunt.
Mr. Chance is this picture indicative of the numbers who walked?
I think it is important to find jobs for the people first then if there is still a supply problem, then we can talk about population being to small. Once there is full employment, crime and violence will decrease. If there is a shortage of skilled people in the population, then provide the necessary training to these local people. SVG FIRST.
Gus Maecock, you are commenting on something the PM said. I agree with you. Why does the PM want a bigger population? Does he want more tax-payers so he can get more money to do projects like airports? Or does the PM want a bigger population to get more people on poor relief in order to get more votes? At least the NDP are not talking about more people, they are talking about more jobs. What was the “Education
Revolution” all about? Just as many people were sent away for schooling before the ULP as during. From what I have noticed, of those that have been schooled abroad, most of them have no place to work.
Some people commenting here are only interested in how many people participated in the walk. Godwin Friday has indicated that the walk was to draw attention to certain aspects of our society. It certainly got the attention of certain people that left comments on this site, positive or negative, it does not matter how many turned up. Mission accomplished Dr. Friday!
SYMBOLISM AND DRAMATIZATION?
This reporter hardly ever ‘…missed an issue.’
Though he takes no responsibility for their utterances, he might still
endeavor to guide them along the way.
Speaking to a walk of ‘…Symbolism and Dramatization,’
clearly does not help in (a) …Reducing crime; and (b)
…Provide job opportunities or even eliminate joblessness.’
While public awareness of the two issues is of critical importance, time may
have been more productively utilized with a devised ‘…Plan of Action.’
Then the stakeholders, sit and dialogue with the powers that be to see how
useful or effective a ‘…unified and collective approach’ might be.
Collaboration and optimism shall never be allowed to be overpowered by
‘…pessimism or organizational interests and antagonism.’
The national interests always supersede all other interests.
Bravo Dr Friday. It shows you care.
Keep at the task Doc.
Keep rubbing shoulders with the public, whether alone or in a corporate manner. Whether with 2 or 22.
The fruit of your labour shall be established. You don’t know it but you are preparing yourself for the task that lies ahead when the next bell is rung. God in heaven is arranging you to be the man who will stand in the gap.
Caption: Dr.Friday’ leadership called into question!
A leader should have his followers/supporters coalesce around the causes in their collective interest! Where are those who acknowledge and believe in what you stand for?
While huge numbers make a bold statement so too does One person especially.if that person is the Opposition Leader of a country. Those who looked at this march as a political stunt is of the similar opinion of Gonsalves who said the crime situation in the country is not bad….Monday Morning another murder in Questelles…this is also a political stunt or should i say it’s “Fake News”?
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