I don’t mind if you consider me a prophetess of doom, but for decades I have been warning that corruption is going to be the death of our beautiful little country. And we seem to be right on the way, with the totally unnecessary spike in COVID-19 cases.
What do you think is mainly the cause of us not enforcing the myriad laws that we have on the books to protect the society?
While it is quick and easy and, in many instances correct, to point fingers at the legendary and oft highlighted corruption in the police force, they are by no stretch of the imagination the only problem.
For many politicians and bureaucrats at both local and central government levels are just as corrupt. But none of them could succeed if we the people were not so selfish, have this deep love for shortcuts and are so steeped in the entrenched practice of dropping money.
This national acceptance of corruption is so visible and in your face as you enter our cities and towns, many of which are eye sores. Why? Mostly because those being paid to enforce our laws have no interest in doing their jobs but simply use their positions to enrich themselves.
In fact, I am here to tell you that the Town and Country Planning Act only serves the interest of the enforcers.
This is a situation I know well, having resided in an area where the blatant disregard for this law has led to widespread commercialization which has not only destroyed the aesthetics but also the roads. For increased commercial activity causes a massive increase in traffic, thus destroying the roads which are not maintained.
The blatant infringement of this particular law in our community has, over the decades, been brought to the attention of just about every enforcer, be it, political representative, every town planner at the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), every councillor and every mayor, to no avail. But as the first and main creator of that commercialization told the residents many decades ago, “Mi have money suh nobady cyaan move mi.” He has indeed been right, and his presence, growth and development have only caused others with the same mentality to move in, pay who they must and live happily ever after while the community deteriorates.
Oh yes, in my beleaguered country, most citizens know exactly who to pay to look the other way so the laws cannot be enforced. And if you think the ever growing, dangerous and troubling problem of squatting on gully banks will every go away, think again, for while it may not be a matter of making money, it is in the interest of politicians to have the regulations ignored so more garrison enclaves can be established.
Corruption here is so widespread and clearly acceptable that even supposedly ‘upstanding’ citizens think nothing of dropping money to get vehicles passed. This is something that often takes just about an hour to complete, for it is a process which I have been doing at Swallowfied for decades. But to some people who have no problem gossiping or participating in other time-wasting and trifling activity, it is too much as, dem nuh hab time fi waste! So, they happily pay thousands of dollars to someone to get the documents stamped, without the vehicle ever being inspected.
This latest troubling spike in COVID-19 cases, which now has now reached an alarming 18,527 cases, 368 deaths and hospitals being put under serious strain, is just the latest example of what happens because we refuse to enforce the rules.
I have maintained, ever since the debate started, that locking down the country is a ridiculous solution as it is disastrous for the economy and pushes the vast majority of the Jamaican poor further into financial ruin and despair.
If we were serious about enforcing the protocols like hand-washing, social distancing, etc, we could learn by now to survive effectively with this invisible enemy. In fact, although being in the vulnerable age group, I have continued doing most of what I love to do, because I make sure to take the necessary steps to protect my health and those with whom I must come into contact.
However, because of the lack of strict enforcement by the authorities (for whatever reason!) on those who refuse to follow the sensible protocols, we now see this frightening spike in the spread of the virus as delinquent taxi drivers have continued to pack up their vehicles with unmasked passengers, young people continue to hold and attend events totally unmasked, and the rich have continued to have their carefree parties both at home and at sea, and on and on, right under the noses of the so-called enforcers.
So now we are facing crisis and there is the heavy-handed response and widespread panic response by the Government.
Can someone please tell me why they should implement restrictions on the entire country and not just on those pockets where the spread is now a problem? For example, why are Clarendon, Portland, St. Mary and Westmorland being treated the same as other parishes where the spread is rife? Isn’t it more logical to deploy people and other resources to enforce the protocols where they are needed and leave the less affected parishes alone?
No, I guess that is too simplistic in a country where the mantra has always been that the good must suffer for the bad.
As long as we continue to ignore the fact that corruption and the lack of enforcement go hand in hand, and only a few continue to benefit to the detriment of the vast majority, we will continue on the slippery slope to our own destruction.