Forty years ago, while I was pregnant, I fell into a pothole. Fortunately, the fall did not terminate my pregnancy, but I still have the scar on my foot as a reminder.
Forty years later our country continues to be haunted by potholes, despite owning the Pitch Lake and producing bitumen for many years. What can we learn from our failure to manage potholes throughout our country?
Life is not a perfectly paved road and potholes will show up at various times. We continuously must choose how to react to the potholes.
Do we continue to walk around them, or find long-term solutions to repair them? Do we ignore the potholes, and allow them to get wider and deeper?
Do we use the excuse: “life is not perfect” to avoid expending any effort to correct issues that affect us?
Like many systemic problems, such as crime and corruption, it is difficult to navigate around them. A re-design of our systems and processes is needed to prevent the crime and corruption from becoming more deeply entrenched.
In other instances, do we engage in quick temporary repairs at the risk of the reappearance of the pothole?
There is no single fix and every time I walk or drive around a pothole, I ask the question: “Why do we tolerate this level of incompetence?”
Is it that many of us live in our little bubbles and are not aware of the extent to which this ignoring of potholes is undermining the foundation of our society? Or are we so afraid of change that we prefer to live with this proliferation of potholes rather than to alter the way we do business?
Our society is at a stage where we must urgently navigate the potholes of life. We are no longer able to steer around the potholes or create temporary, inefficient, or even harmful fixes for our problems.
We need a deep, systemic redesign to be able to create a non-destructive future for our children and grandchildren. For example, we need leadership that is courageous enough to tackle both white-collar crime and gun violence.
We need leaders who are strong enough to transform customer service amongst our public servants. We need leaders with the ability to communicate effectively but still be empathetic. We need leaders who will provide us with a vision of the future that we can all embrace.
A look around the globe and you will see Trinis excelling in various fields. Undoubtedly, we are gifted with intelligent people, and the necessary resources are available. What is missing is the leadership to make new decisions and choices that are in the national interest.
It is time for Trinidad and Tobago to embrace new ways of doing things. By actively embracing new behaviours, we will demonstrate that we have the audacity to help our country live up to its potential.
Potholes will turn up at every turn to challenge our self-belief and whenever they turn up, it is an opportunity to redesign our roads and make life smoother.