To all my readers, good morning this New Year’s morning. Can we reach out to each other and resolve to make the ritual “Happy New Year” greeting mean that we will co-operate on a sustained basis to mitigate the adverse effects of the neglect of our needs and partisan political hate which is spewed upon us?
Last year, 2022, was a dreadful year. However, in the several serial crises in which we found ourselves, our undiminished capacity to help neighbours surfaced impressively—like in the recent, unprecedented floods when we found boats and flotation devices to rescue victims in floodwaters out of stricken communities.
It is re-imagining the possibilities of sustainability of co-operation with which I would like to begin my 21st year as a weekly columnist.
Both of the parties comprising the Government and the Opposition are irrelevant to our well-being. Neither of them have a shred of a proactive policy to manage the country, protect us from criminal elements, mitigate flooding, or administer the so-called social safety nets with an empathetic exercise of discretion that is not riddled with contact and attitude.
Both parties spend their energies on personal attacks designed to play to the visceral tribal loyalties of their respective bases.
The latest verbal abuse of the shelf-life expired Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds, has already been condemned during the two week Christmas break I had from writing this column—but it needs repeated condemnation until he departs office.
In the sharp response of a close friend: “he look for dat”.
We, the citizens, do not have the coercive and other powers and resources of the state at our disposal but we are in a situation in which the Government and Opposition have checked out of a political and civic process which produces policy formulations and implementation for the protection and advancement of as many citizens as possible.
They know only to pelt some money at a problem without any proper care or understanding of, and empathy toward, existing oppressive socio-economic inequalities.
Bureaucratic infrastructure is frequently set up with no clarity or linkage to objectives. Once that is done, there is smug contentment of success—at times with no key performance indicators (KPIs) to validate claims of meaningful action touted in lavish full-page advertisements.
In many communities, therefore, survival will depend on co-operation to set down what is needed and pester the politicians to adopt as policy the meeting of those needs.
Just last week, there was an exchange of words between those who know the Maracas Bay area and officials of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) over the reason for the sea water flooding of the area and the alleged clogging of the Maracas river. Can Udecott shed any light on a proposal for a pumping station in the area?
This sea water flooding in Maracas occurred while many areas suffered the heartbreak of rainwater flooding—disasters worsened their proximity to the Christmas season.
As they hustle to put back makeshift pieces of the Manzanilla/Mayaro road along the same terrain where the road collapsed a month ago and to deflect responsibility for the state of Maracas Bay, the authorities do not really know what to do next.
We need to unite around the relief of flooding and press for sound ocean-side, and river and swamp management practices.
In a 2016 column, I explained why I no longer wrote much about Mayaro. I reminded readers how frequently I grieved over the widespread devastation of the coconut trees throughout Manzanilla and Mayaro—some of it recklessly done in the course of a so-called coastal erosion prevention project.
What thought has been given to the role and replacement of the coconut tree forests that used to gird the road that it surrounds with a safely managed, binding band of protection against the encroaching ocean?
If we put our heads together, are we capable of re-imagining the possibilities of our seaside environments that are currently in the news on account of their mashed-up state?
“We can make it if we try” — peace be with your awesome spirit, Black Stalin.