I have a work plan that doesn’t work
I have a notepad and occasionally I would jot down the subjects I must write on. There are times when three episodes occur in one day and I would inscribe in my notebook a reminder to do columns on those developments for the days coming up. But Guyana is a place where in the corridors of power perversities, violations, scandals, venalities, immoralities pour down like water from a fountain.
Weeks, months would pass and I would miss the subjects I wanted to dwell on because other pressing assessments and assignments got in the way.
This is not a country where you can plan your columns. You decide you will look at the Ministry of Home Affairs for Friday, the Ministry of Finance for Saturday, the presidency for Sunday and the next thing you know so many things suddenly appear on your plate of a more exigent nature that they distort your work plan.
Last night, I perused that little book of mine and I discovered that for last year, I missed 26 areas that I planned to offer opinions on. I noticed that I intended to examine a speech Mr. Jagdeo gave at the international certification ceremony of the Ogle airport. Some interesting observations were made that need to be commented upon. I saw that I should have examined a subtle dig PM Thompson of Barbados took at Rickey Singh and Sir Shridath Ramphal.
Included on the list that missed my pen was Komal Chand’s dismissal of the standard of health services in Guyana. I found in my notebook the intention to do a column on the ethnic make-up of Michael Jackson’s children. I missed out on keeping my promise to analyse the peculiar stance of Stabroek News in not carrying letters published by other newspapers. I planned to resuscitate my work plan in the hope that I can stick to it. I will try but I doubt it. I start today with an article that should have been a response to Peeping Tom weeks ago.
One of the Peeping Toms showered praise on Minister Robeson Benn’s crusade against encumbrances saying that it is time the nonsense stopped. Quite myopically, this Peeping Tom chose to look only at the destructive bulldozer of Minister Benn and not the need for Minister Benn to invent a creative machine.
No one, I doubt, will challenge Minister Benn in trying to provide an aesthetic ambience to Guyana. No government anywhere in the world will allow its citizens to do as they please with public lands.
The results can only be total breakdown. The difference with Guyana and the rest of the world is that while governments destroy illegal structures, simultaneously they are repairing and maintaining the existing facilities that all modern nations should have.
Mr. Benn found himself way beyond Georgetown. In fact way beyond Demerara and ordered his officials to demolish a tiny botanic garden at the front of a small hotel in Region 3. Mr. Benn’s explanation was that it was landscaped on the public parapet. I visited the place and could not agree with the contention that the garden was a hindrance.
To anyone who viewed that item, it was not an encumbrance. But Mr. Benn had a strong point – it was situated on public land and public properties cannot be hijacked by private owners as if Guyana belongs to them. The law was on Mr. Benn’s side. But the laws of a country must be enforced with fairness. Mr. Benn has to see and must see similar hijacking in the hundreds in his daily transportations in Guyana.
That is not the main point however. My quarrel with Mr. Benn is where his creative machine is, where his repairing machine is? Mr. Benn probably uses the Railway Embankment and the East Coast Highway four times weekly. On Clive Lloyd Drive all the street lamps have been extinguished for months now. You mean to tell me that Mr. Benn could find himself way up in Region 3 to look at an illegal structure but hasn’t seen that the lights went out a long time ago on Clive Lloyd Drive? On both the Railway Embankment and the East Coast Highway, some lamps stopped functioning for months now.
Which country does Mr. Benn live in? He lives in Guyana and uses Georgetown streets maybe five, six times a day. Can’t Mr. Benn see that many traffic lights are idiotically calibrated? I emphasize the adverb, idiotically. Some of these wrong signals are an embarrassment when foreign people drive in Georgetown. Is destruction the only thing post-colonial leaders are capable of?