'Dis yah kulcha ah go kill wi'
Errol Hewitt, Guest Columnist
The immediate concern is not now the hundreds of daily illegal backyard fires which spread poisonous fumes in a country with so many asthmatics and similar health issues.
Nor is our immediate concern the sugar-packed baked products euphoniously called 'goodies' in a country with more than its fair share of diabetics.
These represent a 'culture' which can seriously harm if not kill, but has to be dealt with subsequently.
But the more immediate concern is this: how can we continue to silently accept, the conditions imposed on our existence by succeeding governments of arrogant, selfish pretenders whose words make even 'Brer Anancy' envious, while amassing their own independence of comfort and security.
The distance between rich and poor in our country continues to widen, and not unlike in slavery, the few take from the masses and add to their own. Viewed from the immediate hills, Kingston is beautiful in sunlight and truly sparkling at nights from that distance, shacks and their realities fade in the haze and everything looks good but is far from good. Dis yah kulcha ah go kill wi!
A major economic contributor
The late Trinidadian, William Demas, spoke always passionately about the importance of construction as a solid base from which we in the Caribbean should launch economic growth and development. It's a very high multiplier effect in the generation of other effective demands such as furnishings, house and office wares, appliances, creates substantial employment and ensure maximum advantage from the circulating funds. The recent and continuing saga of the Outameni Housing Trust venture gives the impression of players loose in the Government with (to them) 'monopoly' money to play with not the hard-earned money forcibly deducted from the wages of the masses.
It seems obvious that succeeding governments only give lip service to the necessity of operating within a planned framework and instead insist on doing things to satisfy their own selfish demands and that of their colleagues and special interests. There seems to be no adherence to proper planning or even reference to sensible linkages. They seem always to satisfy their lot rather than the lot of us. Dis yah kulcha ah go kill wi!
Housing and squatters
The still decades-old unsatisfied demand for commercial buildings, for example, in the information technology sector, has been a much-publicised issue. In similar fashion is the circumstance of the approximately one million squatters, many of whom are actively involved in the tourism sector, but frustrated into squatting because of the shortage of affordable housing. The illegal response by individual house owners has led to technically unapproved additions which have no concern for the safety or self-respect of those forced to rent such accommodation.
Of course, this has led to the plummeting value of property in the area, but who is concerned about the sole asset of many in the masses? One gets the feeling that there is no concern or urgency in the Parliament for the interest of Jamaicans, who are forced to become squatters or to rent exorbitantly charged substandard accommodation.
Whose interest does our Parliament represent? Dis yah kulcha ah go kill wi!
The evident poverty of governance is readily observable on our roads; just who is in charge? The ease of obtaining loans for motor vehicles seems to have accelerated the release of a large number of incompetent and illegal drivers on the road. And the significant surge in traffic increasingly pushes our import bill for petroleum above our mercantile earnings. This is madness! Is anyone in charge?
Chaos on the roads
The continuing surge in deaths on the road seems inevitable, as is the loss in manpower hours because of the insufficiency of the road network. No one seems to be in charge or is managing the factors which so negatively impact on the expeditious use of the roads or the people's safety. The result is that motorists, and especially taxi drivers, do as they please on the roads, inventing new rules, flaunting those that exist and placing some of our finest in the constabulary in the impossible situation of ticketing their own investments. We, of course, refuse to believe that many of the 'red plate' (route?) taxis or the illegal 'white plate' robots are initially funded by our politicians as an employment effort for constituents.
Who is 'responsible'? ('responsible' can have so many meanings!). Dis yah kulcha ah go kil wi!
Race Course/Heroes Park
There were once lofty yet practical plans to surround Heroes Park with the several ministries of government as a means of pooling resources where practical, and certainly managing expenses while adding to the stability of a vibrant resuscitated downtown Kingston. Heroes Park (once Race Course) is the depository of a sizeable portion of Kingston's history. The once-famous cycle track was formerly the highlight of weekends in the city, and the often competitive kite flying for young boys and girls was a family favourite.
The respite offered performing celebrities like the famous contralto Marian Anderson, who was spurned because of her race by the Daughters of the American Revolution, found brief succour in performing here at the Race Course in front of a whole country of her own people.
Yet this park, in easy access to Allman Town, Brown's Town and Western Kingston, is where cricket, football, boxing, swimming, netball and basketball courts could be established to provide, yet again, well-needed playing and recreational areas to facilitate our young people's healthy growth and development.
Instead, it has been destined by a former minister of finance, aided and abetted by those succeeding, to become an ever-expanding dust bowl for the parking of the cars of visitors to that ministry. Is this in the people's interest? Dis yah kulcha ah go kill wi!
There is so much more which negatively impacts on the lives of the descendants of those, such as Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle and William Gordon, who willingly died in the hope that ruling ourselves would mean better lives for a people whose history is consistently replete with persecution, manipulation and abuse of every sort.
Surely, those heroes had no idea that 'roast breadfruits' would today be the consistent order served us! No real change in the menu since colonialism. Dis yah kulcha ah go kill wi!