Mon | Sep 25, 2017

J’Aristotle’s Jottings | Being part of the solution, not part of the problem

Published:Thursday | May 4, 2017 | 5:00 AM

Our public agencies and officials, including the political directorate, are supposed to serve and protect us. However, given the reality of the day, I put it to you that they have failed us in many respects. Some of them have a greater leaning towards finding problems for solutions rather than being solutions oriented.

Recently, Clarendon, in particular, was seriously affected by flooding, reportedly attributable to a lack of appropriate infrastructure to abate the effects of the heavy rains which the parish experienced. That was the word from the ODPEM. Now, people, it is not as if we don't know what is needed to prevent such disasters. So why aren't these preventive mechanisms in place? The reasons are, in my view, laziness, apathy, skulduggery and, only too often, partisan politics.

 

LAZINESS

 

'The Lord helps those who help themselves.' Let us begin there. Those who live in flood-prone areas should start the process of prevention in their own backyards - clearing of drains, proper disposal of garbage, simple but effective remedies. Get off your posteriors and do something for yourselves and your communities; get the ball rolling.

 

APATHY

 

The next challenge is to keep the ball rolling. Too often, after people have done their part, the follow-up by local and national agencies fails to materialise. The garbage isn't collected, and ends up right back in the drains. The people then ask the question, 'Why bother?' Apathy sets in as they see little or no point in trying to keep the ball rolling. Things revert to point zero: we regress, rather than progress.

 

SKULDUGGERY

 

Too often, we are faced with tragedy due to poor workmanship on poorly executed public contracts, not because of inability, but as a result of profiteering at our expense - wasting of resources to fix the same problem over and over again, repeatedly using bound-to-fail remedies. Case in point is the fixing of potholes with marl. People, there are things called sustainable long-term remedies! Surely, we don't need a trade licence to import them.

 

PARTISAN POLITICS

 

Be honest, people, how often have you seen projects started under one political regime being abandoned by succeeding regimes, regardless of the state of completion or the benefits to be derived therefrom? The practice among some politicians is that if they are not the conceptualiser and deliverer, the people must do without. We lose again. This is the net result of partisan politics.

The recent flooding in May Pen is an example, with Minister Mike Henry's assertion that "despite numerous assessments pointing to the urgency to alleviate the problem in the town, the previous People's National Party administration redirected those works elsewhere".

Casting blame is easy. Leading by example, cutting out the partisanship, and being a part of the solution is more difficult. He is the MP, but which is it - member of parliament, or Member of 'problem-ent'? "So a man sows, so shall he reap", but in cases like these, where our public servants don't sow, we are the ones who don't reap.

 

GETTING THE BALL ROLLING

 

It seems so many of our problems are eventually handled when external powers give us a shove. We don't deal with our crime or drug kingpins or lotto scammers until extradition warrants arrive. We don't implement sustainable economic programmes until the IMF gives us prescriptions

Since the public service arena is plagued by inertia, skulduggery and partisanship, we need to give them some incentive to better serve and protect us. People, I am talking about shaming them into action.

I am encouraging the start a Hall of Shame campaign, to bring to the public's attention the unsatisfactory conditions under which so many of our people are living. Highlight the blocked drains, the stagnant pools of water, the littered gullies, the pile-ups of garbage, the wasteful application of resources on recurring problems. Publicise the agencies that are responsible for addressing the problems. Highlight the political divisions and constituencies where the problems are located, and let us shame those responsible into becoming part of our solution, since they are either unable or unwilling to provide us with the solutions. And we must also give recognition to those who are doing good works and are responsive.

I gone get my camera, shame time a come.