Even after they were eliminated by Belgium in the World Cup Round of 16 on Monday, the Japan National Football Team and their supporters gave us a lesson in class and a taste of their culture.
I read that their fans cleaned up the section of the stadium where they sat while the team’s locker room was also clean and spotless when they departed. They even left a ‘thank you’ note to their Russian hosts.
I wonder how can the Japanese, who are in another country, display such civility. I would not delve into the semantics of the skill and prowess of the Japan team and why and how they were beaten by Belgium in such a heart-wrenching manner. But what I would take from the Japanese off the field, is their sense of cleanliness; and I wonder why we cannot adopt such a culture in Trinidad and Tobago.
Having seen social media videos of recent flooding in Port of Spain and parts of Diego Martin and central Trinidad, I was appalled and horrified—but not in the least bit surprised.
The video showed parked cars submerged by torrential rain, which brought with it debris such as the ubiquitous plastic bottles and bags, tree trimmings and appliances—highlighting the way we indiscriminately dump garbage in our rivers and waterways.
All the debris cause by the flooding, due to the unusual precipitation, will lead to greater surface runoff. The garbage brought down by the flooding—most of it clearly as a result of anthropogenic impact or human activity—led inevitably to the blockage of the City’s archaic drainage systems.
The Ministry of Works, which has the responsibility for drainage, seems clueless and totally inept and devoid of solutions to rectify this perpetual headache that we witness every year. What has always amused me is that the Ministry employs Drainage Engineers, Project Engineers, Civil Engineers and persons qualified and familiar with Maintenance; yet we just can’t seem to get it right.
There must be a model that we can use, if we are unable to provide one of our own, to bring results to this yearly concern of flooding in our Capital City.
We must be cognisant about the immediate risks of flooding which pose great danger to property damage, health and human life. It is indeed important for us to realise that these perennial floods—including flash flood in our City and by extension rural areas—greatly increase the risk of the spread of communicable diseases; where, in all likelihood, water-borne diseases are expected to spread in its aftermath.
The narrative with regards to climate change and the effect of coastal damage is another area of concern. The impact of climate change is likely to worsen problems that coastal areas like Manzanilla and Mayaro already face, such as, shoreline erosion, water pollution and coastal flooding.
When last have the authorities paid attention to the shores of our beaches? The garbage left behind by our citizens after a day at the beach would make the Japanese football team cringe and probably commit “Hari-kari”. This uncleanliness is overwhelming and an eyesore to any person with a sense of cleanliness and hygiene.
Permit me to digress a little. We are aware of the levels of Sargassum seaweed, which began washing up on beaches of the Caribbean since 2011. One theory is that a change in the sea currents attributed to climate change increased the amount of carbon dioxide, which enhances the growth of Sargassum.
But what initiative has the Regional Corporation put in place to remove the unattractive seaweed off the beaches? Zilch!
Has no one thought of putting CEPEP workers to rake the beaches daily and remove, bury or take it to landfills? Or perhaps the Faculty of Science at UWI can investigate and research the potential use of Sargassum as a sustainable energy source and fertiliser?
We are expecting a robust rainy season, therefore all of us need to do our part to keep our surroundings clean. This starts simply by refraining from throwing garbage in rivers, beaches and recreational areas.
And on the administrative side, the authorities must put strategic programmes in place to keep waterways clean and enforce stringent measures on town planning and developments.
Most importantly, they must also inform and educate citizens about the dangers of flooding and what can be done to minimise its impact. And, like the Japanese, we must adopt a culture of cleanliness.