Barbados boasts some very sophisticated infrastructure for an island of a mere 166 square miles. With continuous developments in facilities, technology, transportation and communication, Barbados is well on the way to achieving its goal of developed nation status by 2025.
At a cost of more than 150 million dollars, the island’s only airport, Grantley Adams International, has recently been upgraded again, offering more space, more shops and state of the art facilities to handle its increasing regional and international traffic.
At last count the passenger terminal was handling an estimated of 2.3 million passengers a year and – before the January 2008 change of government – there was talk of adding an airport hotel and a multistory car park.
Barbados, despite its small size (166 square miles), offers free government-financed education from primary school to university level. Attending school in Barbados is compulsory up to the age of 16 years old.
There are over 100 schools in the primary and secondary sectors. Educational institutions at the post-secondary level include The Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJP), the Barbados Community College (BCC) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus.
The next step, according to government plans, is to amalgamate the programmes of the BCC and the SJP under the University College of Barbados.
Barbados has a reliable supply of electricity. In fact the lone supplier of electricity, the Barbados Light and Power Company, is considered one of the region’s most efficient operations.
The domestic and commercial supply voltage is 115/230 volts 50Hz. The majority of hotels throughout the island offer adapters and transformers for foreign hair dyers or other small appliances. If in doubt, ask your respective hotel or villa agent prior to travel. Solar power is used extensively throughout the island for hot water systems.
Barbados has two major hospitals, over 20 clinics and a handful of experienced medical laboratories. The island’s health care sector is well developed, offering both private and public health care services. The two major Barbados hospitals are the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Bayview Hospital.
There are also two major private medical centers – Sandy Crest on the West coast and the FMH center nearer to Bridgetown – plus several medical laboratories offering a wide range of essential testing services and facilities. There is a well established dental services sector and also a state of the art fertility clinic. The University of the West Indies also offers clinical and graduate programmes in medicine.
The Barbados Postal Service (BPS) is a department of the government. The head of the BPS is the Postmaster General. There are 18 post offices across the island operating from 8:00am and to 3:00pm Monday to Friday. The General Post Office opens earlier at 7:30am and closes at 5:00pm. Apart from local Express Mail Service, the BPS offers international services which are widely used for the Caribbean region and beyond. There is also a pick-up service for corporate clients and government departments. Fedex, DHL and UPS couriers also operate out of Barbados.
The Bridgetown Port, is the main point of entry for seagoing vessels. It is located on the South Coast of Barbados, in the parish of St. Michael. Passengers of cruise ships and other large vessels must clear customs at this point of entry. Smaller vessels, such as yachts, may clear customs either in Bridgetown or at the Port St. Charles Marina, located on the West Coast of Barbados, in the parish of St. Peter.
Barbados is equipped with the most modern telecommunications infrastructure in the Eastern Caribbean, with the latest in digital technology and fiber optic systems, international direct dialing and satellite telecommunications.
High speed Internet is widely available with ADSL service take-up more than tripling in the last year.
Deregulation has seen an increase in telecoms players and services. Two major cell phone providers, Digicel and AT&T Wireless (later renamed Cingular), entered the market against former monopoly Cable and Wireless. In August 2005, Cingular Wireless sold their Caribbean operations to Digicel.
Since then two other telecoms providers have emerged, TeleBarbados, largely in the wireless space, and Blue Communications.
The increased competition has forced down the cost of international and mobile calls by over 50%. Barbados offers international roaming and operates under the internationally recognized GSM network. The International direct distance dialing code for Barbados is 1-246, followed by a seven digit local number.
Transportation and Road System
Barbados has an extensive and well developed road system of about 1,475 km of paved roads. The main ABC highway, which links the north and south of the island, has recently undergone a multi-million dollar expansion, to cope with the ever-increasing road traffic.
The state-owned Barbados Transport Board runs the public bus service and has a well organized system of schedules and routes. The cost of a bus trip is standardized at $1.50, no matter the distance. Special categories of passes are available for a variety of travellers, including children and senior citizens. Barbados Transport Board buses are easy to spot as they bear Barbados’ national colours of blue and yellow.
The Barbados Water Authority, a Government statutory corporation, is the sole provider of water services. Water service is reliable, safe to drink and can be connected within 48 to 72 hours. In most cases, a monthly payment for continued service is based on metered usage.