By Leonard Gildarie
Chin-up. Buckle up. The COVID-19 ride is far from over. In fact, while there will be staunch disagreements, it is my conclusions that between COVID-19 and Elections 2020, the latter is worse.
There will be strong arguments, of course, on both sides. If a democratically elected government is in place it would help dig us out from the hole we are in and maybe access international funding to alleviate the physical and other pains that have arrived.
COVID-19, some would argue, would be worse because of the economic and health implications. One only has to check the world stats and examine New York’s to understand the devastation in these modern times that the virus has sown.
In my lifetime, the world has not endured something like this. The word endure may not even be applicable.
Families have been ripped apart with mothers and fathers dying and funerals held at a location where few can pay their last respects.
Governments have been laid bare by a pandemic which have exposed our frailties.
If nothing else has opened our eyes to the beauty of life, Coronavirus has done it.
The simple things like freedom of movement, a movie at the mall, or just window-shopping, have been suspended. Market shopping was a joyful lure. While it is still happening, there is a hurried movement with suspicious eyes and ears at alert for those wearing masks or coughing.
The operations of the police, courts and closures of businesses have left the people reeling.
Simple things like going to school or paying bills have suddenly become major.
Let us examine. For years now, the banks have been pushing for more online transactions and other standing orders arrangements that would reduce traffic in their locations.
The GTT has even introduced MMG with bills payment operations like Western Union and MoneyGram assisting in a big way.
The problem is that the banks and authorities have not been aggressive enough. There are thousands of Guyanese…and especially senior citizens…are naturally suspicious.
They prefer to join long lines instead of a debit card.
It could also speak to how thousands of persons are living from pay cheque to pay cheque.
The post offices should have been insisting that it is no longer keeping large quantity of cash. Pensioners should not be lining up for hours every month.
The hard fact is that our senior citizens are barely scraping by, living day to day and the banks and other financial institutions have not been paying mind. It is costly to open accounts and conduct numerous reports in keeping with new anti-money laundering laws.
It is a fact that bankers have been eyeing the customers who have more money and can pay the necessary fees that are required for the upkeep of their operations.
The fact that Guyanese have not largely warmed up to the use of plastic (debit and credit cards) has largely to do with people not wanting to change.
Today, we are paying the price.
Payments to Courts and the utilities have been proving a major hurdle. It defies the purpose of closing the borders and airports and introducing a curfew when we have our people sitting in a packed minibus without masks and in lines and in contravention to the requirements of just half of the vehicle occupied.
The other big problem we are facing is the difficulties faced by the police and authorities when it comes to manning the borders.
It is an age old problem.
COVID-19 has exposed our weaknesses. Persons are crossing at whim along the Brazil border, sometimes walking across in shallow waters that separate the two countries.
So we have shut the front door with the back door and whole side wall not there.
There is a story coming out now. Iwokrama has insisted that persons travelling on the Linden/Lethem roadway that passes through its forests must wear masks.
The reason that reportedly sparked this was news that a villager in Region 9 tested positive for COVID-19. His family is positive too. He went to several villages. The authorities are deeply worried as it could effectively push those figures up from the 116 positive cases we had recorded from Friday.
We are scrambling in different directions with the National COVID-19 Task Force not engaging the media for more than three weeks now.
The Civil Defence Commission has gone quiet too.
The people are in need of leadership. We want guidance. We want to have a ‘gestimate’ about what and how long we should be prepared for.
In the meantime, our politicians have been saying precious little to reassure our people at this time.
As of yesterday, it was Day 11 for the recount. I am yet to hear from the leaders encouraging our people to take heart.
We look to Trinidad and Tobago and hear Keith Rowley and others engaging their people. We read of meaningful conversation of opening up certain services. It is what good leaders do.
It is important to keep the citizenry engaged.
But no…our people are mere peasants who are hopefully, expectantly awaiting our lordships to talk to us.
I am deeply ashamed at the lack of vision and uncaring attitude…on both sides of the divide.
Carry on bravely…let us not hear the cries of our people.
It is how responsible leaders operate.
(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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