Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎

WHAT A MESS! by Rae Samuel

posted 24 Oct 2017, 06:55 by Gerry Kangalee
What a mess! And here I am not referring to the state in which the ongoing rains and flooding have left communities and roadways, 
from Piarco to Mafeking and throughout South and Central.

That damaging weather occurrence has been followed by a freak storm named Dave Williams. Said to be acting head of the Office of Disaster Preparedness Management has turned out to be a Category 6 public relations disaster.

Floods that almost took the lives of a family including a pregnant woman; that have damaged hundreds of homes and destroyed livestock is described as a 'small thing'. Even his line Minister, whose ministry is an all weather, year round malfunctioning disaster, guardedly criticised him..

The said official sounded unconcerned that it took three days for the agency to get the communication network going. One would imagine that the operations are designed to respond immediately in a situation like this - much like a backup generator at a hospital. This guy could get a job working for Donald Trump in Puerto Rico with a resume like the one he has just created. What is interesting is that in a critical post such as this he is acting.

Then there are the responses. The Army was deployed late but they can only respond as directed. As if the head of the ODPM was not enough, the Minister of Local Government advised that we should turn to God'. I do not know if this was a tongue in cheek reference to the Noah Chronicles in the Bible, where a chosen few rode out the storm in an Ocean Flower II and the rest perished. Tongue in cheek? Nah, he is a PNM!

What is emerging is a Katrina story. The local government agencies are indicating that they are under resourced. Councillors speak of poorly serviced pumps and sluice gates that are not maintained; of not enough funding to clear drains and water courses.

Katrina turned into the nightmare after the storm because the levees were poorly maintained. We also have to recognise that 
Related imagedevelopers have had a free hand, skirting regulations and building codes, if there are any. When environmentalist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh bore witness to impending ecological disaster occasioned by the construction of the Debe-Mon Desir Highway, he was mocked by the same politicians who are now grabbing every photo op they can.

As ever, it is up to the local communities to salvage as best they can. Where was the Prime Minister? He was at the command post at another disaster prone area, managing another ongoing crisis. He was in Parliament, discussing the budget. Yet he says ministers like Rohan Sinanan were in the lakes overseeing operations. Come on, sir..''Yuh go sen’ Rohan to manage a situation involving water?'' Where have you been over the last 6 months?

The floods will subside eventually.The state agencies will move in and provide a modicum of relief. Individual households will to try to recover. One does not know if God will respond to minister Kazim Hosein's request and show up, or if Dave will keep his 'small thing' job.

What all this further proves is, the late Lloyd Best's dictum, that administrations come into office 'pre-collapsed' is correct. In this instance it is merely occurring on another front.