Bookstore owner Nigel Khan says he was “hurt to tears” when he made the tough decision to close down his only store in Tobago, due to the unreliability of inter-island transport.
Earlier this week Khan announced the closure of the Nigel R. Khan Bookseller outlet, in Gulf City Mall, Lowlands.
The bookstore had been in operation since the mall's opening 12 years ago.
An outraged Khan yesterday called on Government to once and for all fix the problems on the airbridge and seabridge before “Tobago's economy finally collapses”.
“Imagine we are running a chain with an international standard and I am unable to deliver the latest New York Times bestsellers on time. I'm unable to deliver the latest Harry Potter, Diary of a Whimpie Kid, in Tobago, on time and unable to deliver school textbooks on time. Imagine having schoolbooks arrive in September. It's an outrage and I call this airbridge and seabridge issue a national crisis,” Khan told the Express..
He said he was not consoled by news that a new ferry will arrive in this country by April.
“If they were to say that ferry were to run on time I will change my name. They will have a new ferry arriving but they will have improper management of that ferry and it is going to break down and there will be no plan,” he said.
“I do believe that what's at stake here is management. If for 30 years you cannot run an airbridge efficiently without having a barrage of complaints how could you run anything,” he added.
Khan was of the view that Government was extremely anti-business, given the challenges businesses face to get US currency to pay their foreign suppliers, the inter-island transportation woes businesses face, and the imposition of Value Added Tax on books.
Khan said the hardest part of closing the Tobago store was breaking the news to his three employees.
“They saw the signs of it since June last year. They kept saying Nigel why aren't we getting books and we are only selling empty shelves. We gave the employees full notice and they actively search for employment elsewhere and they were given time to plan. That was the saddest part for me, losing my employees,” Khan said.
“I am extremely hurt by the closure. I do this not only for the money. I really believe that books are sacred and that books are an enlightenment. Books are points of light and the power to transform lives,” he stated.