By Leonard Gildarie
This will be the last piece for the year. What a year it has been!
We have first oil and it was a bitter fight in and out of the courts over that no confidence motion on the evening of December 21st, 2018.
The net effect of that vote has not change by much the timeline for when elections was scheduled to be Constitutionally held. However, that vote has served to deliver to us some harsh truths…as a people we have failed to gather around the table when it mattered the most.
Our politicians failed us in our hour of need to find consensus on an issue that demanded our full attention…yes, oil and gas.
We have the single most important development that potentially can transform our lives overnight. I argued throughout the year and will repeat in this last piece for the year…ExxonMobil is not the monster. We are.
ExxonMobil and its partners have shareholders they are answerable to. In Guyana, our leaders are answerable to us the voters. We are the shareholders who are demanding a return on our investments.
There is a splinter in our Board of Directors…the Parliament. It is to be dissolved tomorrow to make way for the March 2nd elections. In the meantime, the directors are unable to gather together for a common cause to tell the world that united we stand.
I sat and learnt Friday of 84 barrels of mud being spilled in our oceans by an oil company, Repsol. Guyana learnt of it through a newspaper report.
There are several things wrong here. What mechanisms were there to deal with issues like these? Should the people of Guyana have been told formally? Have we determined scientifically what kind of environmental impact, if any, occurred?
There are worrying signs that Repsol and its drilling company possibly did not follow procedures, thus causing the spill. The incident has raised questions about EPA’s capacity to monitor spills.
I want to make this very clear…our politicians and executives in office should understand very clearly their stay in office is temporary…that goes for both sides of the fence.
Accountability and transparency are the hallmarks of good governance. In any case, as shareholders, they have an obligation to keep us abreast.
As we enter a new year, there is an opportunity for us to correct the situation.
The production of oil has to force us to the table to talk about what matters the most to the people of Guyana.
Elections is a mere two months away. It will be the mother of all elections.
The People’s Progressive Party will be fighting one of its most defining battles. It knows the implications of losing.
The incumbent Coalition fancies its chances. The amended Cummingsburg Accord, which spells out how the partners would share governance, has been signed. The PPP is fighting tooth and nail. The Coalition has been unveiling its completed projects.
Two of the oldest parties will meet on March 2nd to do battle. It would not be pretty.
In the meantime, the production of oil is already with us…sadly in the background it seems.
As a people, we have to endeavour to do much, much better.
Over the years, I have disclosed some of my most personal details in this forum. It staggers me to think afterwards about the disclosures.
Many would meet or text and say it was a brave thing. It has made me stronger.
There are lessons. We should not be afraid to cry. We should not shy away from demanding publicly for better. If not for us…let’s do it for our children.
We travel and visit cities and marvel at what could be. We can dream for a better Guyana and demand our leaders chart a course to take us there.
As we enter 2020 and what is promising to be a challenging year, one major issue continues to dog our productivity…traffic congestion.
We simply do not have the infrastructure to keep up with the number of vehicles being imported.
More roads and another Demerara River crossing will have to be our biggest priorities.
I live in Diamond. It is traumatic using that one access road – in and out.
In the mornings, the lines are curling. There is a cost to that.
Workers, thousands of them seated in vehicles not using air condition, would eventually make it to their place of employ, sweaty and tired. It is a grind.
It is the same for the thousands who brave the roads of West Demerara on workdays.
We would not see an Ogle/East Bank Demerara link for another four years.
Another harbour bridge will not likely be here for about the same time.
In the meantime, at least 10,000 more vehicles are hitting the roads annually.
I am getting a motorcycle. It is a pain.
At the Stabroek Market, the minibuses are parked with the speedboat landing located in the area. The congestion stretches across the river at Vreed-en-Hoop.
One of the suggestions I heard of easing the congestion at the West Demerara area is to drop passengers heading further along the coast along the Windsor Forest area. This suggestion drives home the point that we need to think outside the box.
The past year has been tough on me.
Management asked me to host a show on Kaieteur Radio and I reluctantly agreed.
I never did radio and I don’t have the voice for it. So it was that ‘The Political Show’ was born. I was also asked to temporarily host ‘The Legal Mind’.
Fortunately, both shows have been doing fantastically well, with no shortage of the big names as guests.
It has been brutal with more work scheduled, but a challenge I have grown to love.
We will be called upon to work harder by our employers…our shareholders in the coming months. We may not agree, but it is how the world works.
We have to pay attention to the lessons and adopt practices that will help us grow.
Discipline and teamwork will be the watchwords.
A prosperous new year from my family at home and Kaieteur News to you all.
I do thank you for the words of encouragement…and the criticisms too.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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