Sat | Nov 25, 2017

Ronald Mason | Everyting pop down

Published:Friday | July 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Jamaican society is tangled in a web of bureaucracy. Let us take a look at the process to get real estate approval as a single non-developer entity. I find it utterly ridiculous to be asked to solve the chronic problem of government-provided water. Undersupply has existed for decades, yet government agencies would want you to provide solutions, as directed by hydraulics engineers. The Jamaica Institution of Engineers does not list one hydraulic engineer among its registered members. Not one.

The plans have to be approved by some 17 different agencies and then require the sign-off signature of a central government minister. All this time gets converted to lost capital. All this time represents opportunity costs for those skilled tradespersons who will not earn. All this time represents lost revenue to the State. Every so often the central government will make pronouncements about a 90-day turnaround for approval once the application is lodged. That is just wishful thinking.

I live in a community where the roads cling to the winding mountainside and are subject to the ravages of rain and landslides. We have had one such breakaway on a very heavily trafficked road. The breakaway was relatively small at first. It did not prevent traffic from flowing. The political directorate was informed and was aware of the potential for disaster.

Some two years before, within 200 metres of this very breakaway, the road became completely impassable and remained impassable for months, as the political leadership haggled over who had responsibility and who was to be awarded, no, rewarded with the job.

With that kind of recent history, one would have thought it logical that this new breakaway would have been fixed as soon as possible to avoid a repeat. Not so. They allowed each new shower of rain to enlarge the breakaway while they sat and did nothing. They have no regard for the plight of citizens. Now, the road is completely impassable, as they claim they are doing the repairs.

As this is being written, there is only one employee to be seen on sight, and nobody works on Saturdays or Sundays. The general talk is that this job will provide Christmas 2017 spending money for the political hangers-on and all others connected. We are now in July and were assured this reconstruction would be completed by the end of August.

 

No connection

 

The commuters be damned. There is no JUTC connection for the commuters, and they must now get out of one vehicle, walk through the construction site, and pay another two fares on the other side. There is no fire service or very little in an area where there are frequent bush fires, and summer is about to peak. There is no ambulance service from the health clinic and very restrictive and high cost of the stretched police coverage because the alternative route takes you miles out of the way. Then, of course, commerce is almost dead. Oh, the travails of daily living in Jamaica.

Public hospitals are overrun with trauma cases. The accident and emergency stretchers have been turned into beds. Patients have been placed to sit in wheelchairs for hours on end as the short-staffed, overworked medical personnel are now subjected to abuse by angry and frustrated citizens. The Ministry of Health does the same thing everybody else is doing - praying for divine intervention. The schools continue to warehouse children for five years and then turn them loose on an unprepared society where twenty persons have to be interviewed to find one who may qualify for a second interview.

An acquaintance of mine with a pest control business finds it very hard to find suitable employees to be trained in the proper application of the chemicals which are integral to his business, yet we delude ourselves into thinking that within four years we will achieve five per cent annual GDP growth.

Something is wrong, very wrong. Those who have access are corrupt, and most of those who have no skill are criminally inclined. Divisions in the society need to be addressed urgently. We all need to take a new stance for the development of this country. If we don't, hang the banners at the Norman Manley and Sangster International airports.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.