Lonely hearts 63 years ago
Thursday night, I was watching a film (Lonely Hearts) based on the true story about a man and his wife who went on a killing spree in the late forties in the US. They would put out lonely hearts advertisements in the classified section of the newspapers. When single women applied, the husband would lure them to their deaths after taking their money and other assets. The couple was executed in 1951
There was a part of that film that stirred me to anger when I think that my country will be celebrating 46 years of Independence today. A traffic cop stopped the two killers for zigzagging with their car. This was in 1948. When the registration document was handed to the cop he did back then (in 1948) what they do in civilized countries. The policeman would radio into a data base to check on registration of both car and driver’s licence.
What do you think of a country in 2012 that when a traffic cop stops a driver he has no way of ascertaining, there and then, if the registration is indeed legal? Sixty years ago, the American policeman had a database system that could have told him if the car he stopped had valid papers.
What we have in Guyana is a system so primitive that one wonders why the young and educated stay in this country. Where is modern technology in Guyana and where is modernization?
In Guyana, a violation by a minibus is spotted by a traffic rank. He orders the bus to be emptied and the driver must report to the police station. I am arguing that such a policy is abominably primitive. I have seen the emptying process so often for the most minor offences. The ticketing process for minor traffic offences started in other countries long before we became Independent.
There has to be something psychically wrong with the Guyana Police Force that last month it put out a statement listing a range of traffic offences for which (please read carefully now) “a ticket MAY be issued.”
Now MAY simply means that you can still be hauled to the police station. My question; is there a set of violations for which a ticket MUST be given? MUST meaning that you do not have to go to the station?
Today we celebrate 46 years of Independence and just a few days ago, our President was in Barbados. Among the complaints he received from Guyanese living there was that they have problems getting UG qualifications to be accepted. Hey! Hold your horses! It is not Freddie Kissoon or Kaieteur News that published that. This was what the Chronicle reported President Ramotar heard from Guyanese living in Barbados. So after 46 years of Independence our only university has problems getting its products accepted in of all places, a sister Caricom country.
When I courted my wife in 1978, she worked at Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation next to the now vanished Luckhoo Swimming Pool. I use to take for her the “boil and fry” ground provisions my mom made and I would stop in Kingston and buy two small boxes of milk.
In large agricultural Guyana, we import box milk from Barbados. Trinidad and Jamaica produce their own box milk. My wife and I like to have Sunday breakfast on the verandah eating tennis rolls stuffed with tinned luncheon meat. Do you know where the tinned meat comes from? Small Barbados. What do we can in Guyana? I hope not only cocaine or marijuana.
It has been more than four decades since Caribbean economists (particularly our great scholar, Clive Thomas) warned of the dangers of a mono-cultural economy. That simply means relying on the export of one particular crop. In those times in Guyana, it was sugar. What has changed since Independence? Our economy still rests on the super-importance of the export of sugar with rice, fish and minerals running a close second.
What have we learned about economic development since Independence? What do we manufacture here?
Do you know that if Banks DIH or the Police Force or DDL or UG or Kaieteur News or Digicel or GT&T pays you with a cheque on a Monday for a job you did, and if you take that cheque to GBTI and it is a Republic Bank document or vice versa you have to wait five days before the bank can ascertain that the cheque is safe?
Now remember we are talking about really big names in Guyana with large credibility standing. But you still have to wait five days. So if you need the money on Tuesday to feed your kids, you are in trouble. This is Guyana after 46 years of Independence.