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Sunday, April 18, 2010

In response to "...we are now worst than a Third World country..." on Facebook

All I am saying is let us look at the situation with some objectivity and not with the hysterical "de country goin' to hell in a handbasket!" approach.

Re the health sector, successive administrations have struggled with the regional health authorities for years. The thing is that you hear no complaints about the RHAs that are working. Yes, there are problems in San Fernando and Port of Spain Hospitals, and issues arise at Mount Hope from time to time. Administration is the responsibility of the RHA boards. Delivery of health care is the responsibility of the doctors and nurses, particularly some of the senior ones that either go missing after they sign in or stick around just long enough to redirect patients to their private clinics. When the Government attempted to fix the key problem - the Medical Board legislation - the current Opposition blocked them at every turn. A functional health sector requires functional medical staff, something that exists in several of our more remote health facilities, like Sangre Grande and Mayaro.

Part of Minister Mustapha Abdul-Hamid's challenge since becoming Public Utilities Minister has been to shake up and shape up both T&TEC and WASA. The Regulated Industries Commission has done great work too in holding both of these companies to account for their shit. Note though, by analysis that has been aired publicly, that both have been delivering water and electricity at less than cost on infrastructure that they could not afford to upgrade for decades. Both utilities also have to deal with the trade unions. Let us leave the impact of the trade union movement on productivity for another day, but for this small tale. A colleague called WASA one day to report a leak in her neighborhood. She was told by the customer service rep that it would be a day or two before someone could come to look at it because someone had stolen the batteries from all of the trucks. Blame Patrick for that.

The Tarouba Sports Complex Project is a mess. Talk done. Management errors abound. I await the results of further investigations.

Other than that, have you read at least the executive summary of the Uff Report? We asked for it, millions were spent on it, we agitated over whether it would be published publicly, and now, no one will read it.

Three projects were completed in time and on budget: the Waterfront Project, NAPA, and I can't remember the third right now.

The Waterfront Project, through two summits, has shown that Trinidad and Tobago can now compete on the global market as a major conference destination, like Florida and Las Vegas. For example, should RBTT decide to host their Global Investor Conferences again, they don't have to go abroad anymore. They can do it right here.

NAPA has its faults, yes, but by the ministry's public admission, it is under warranty and Shanghai Corporation is required to fix faults identified. Further, the structure is not useless, in spite of Rubidiri Victor's emotion-laced document. It was a tough read, but I read it, and managed to confirm that yes, a number of his concerns articulated in the latter part of the document are valid. However, they can be fixed, and will be fixed without additional public expenditure.

Concerning the buildings that remain unfinished or continue to be unoccupied, read the Uff Report. It's very informative and cuts through a lot of the haze in the public domain.

Crime is a social disease. National Security has been fighting the battle on the one end, and some defence attorneys have been, in my view, their main antagonists. How many times have we heard that a bandit was shot by the Police and he had pending charges for X, Y and Z?

Otherwise, we have Dr. Amery Browne and others struggling to stem the supply of new blood and to plug holes created by the dismantling of the youth camp system, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the expansion of the URP by a previous administration. You have no idea how many social programmes are at work today to try to empty the bandits' recruitment pool. This is word of mouth and I've yet to research to confirm, but young people can no longer enter the URP at age eighteen. They are instead channeled to programmes like MuST and HYPE where they learn a trade and then are apprenticed, hopefully to have them see that they can make productive use of their time and energy.

But you can't make a man's mind. Nor can the Police be everywhere at once. And with the bandit culture being glorified in part by the music we allow to be played - and don't try to stop that because the media will riot - rob and kill is the easy and attractive means to wealth and well-being for simpler minds.

I pray God every day that my family and friends don't become statistics. We have some personal responsibility too. We know what is going on and we can indeed do much to protect ourselves or at the very least minimise the likelihood of becoming a victim. Whatever happened to being our brother's keeper? As for me, I'm not going anywhere that stepping on somebody's foot can get me killed. That's not my kind of crowd in any case. And Car Search and a transmission lock in my putt-putt when I get it, to me, would be sufficient investment and deterrent there.

As for the church, I'm tired talking about the church. The Prime Minister has stood in front the Parliament and bared his soul about his own beliefs. Why it is that we only ever want to hear one side? If we want, public accounts are available and we can dig deeper to see whether any Ministry or State Corporation disbursed any funds for construction of the church going up in Guanapo. Anything else is wild speculation and old talk. No matter what the associations of the people responsible for the church, they have to account to no one as to where they got their money nor how they managed to contract Shanghai Corporation's employees to do the work for them. The only thing that concerns me is whether the Chinese firm's licence to operate in Trinidad allows them to engage in other works. If they can, then I want to hire them to do some work at my place too. I would do more than pay them a fair wage. I would pay them extra just because they're getting the job done on time.

Why is nobody talking about the Water Taxi Service? Why is nobody talking about the money that was spent on the new Coast Guard Fleet? CDAP is working. GATE is working and opening doors to people all over the country. I know people who are encouraged to stop smoking because of the anti-smoking legislation. A lot of people have stopped driving in questionable states because of the breathalyser legislation.

Let us contend with the specific issues and not operate from a point of hysteria, i.e. avoid statements like "they have taken the country backward, we are now worst than a Third World country." This is quite simply not true.

And one last thing... As a buddy so carefully articulated in another online space today, be careful while you cry and scream about the country going to hell that you don't go and replace bad with worse.

Remember. Peep over Kamla's shoulder to see who is champing at the bit behind her.

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