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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.

3 thoughts on “Enforcement and Corruption

  1. Ms Williams,
    Thank you for taking us on an easy stroll about corruption and related issues. As you pointed out so easily our love of dropping money to get things done, skipping around others to get treated specially which has become commonplace as dropping garbage on the streets. What explains these and other behaviours that single us out for living so comfortably with corruption?
    My premise, if one can call it such, modern Jamaica started out as a pirate’s haven for criminality, plunder, murder and mayhem, sanctioned, respectively by the Spanish, and later, the British Crowns. Also, we cannot have forgotten that soon the pirates became members of the local legislature that made the laws to protect their loot and secure it for the future.
    That aside, the worse was yet to come via the enslavement of Africans men, women and children to enrich white British enslavers, who also sat in the legislature and made laws to codify their corrupt behaviours – a lasting privilege of corrupt behaviour that stares us in the face daily.
    Why has no one tackled the continuing fallacy of a legal system that has codified corruption as we know it? All this pomp and pageantry to keep the natives entertained while the corrupt increase their looting?
    Sorry to have run away with your theme, but until we get to the bottom of our homegrown “corruption” and see how it feeds off our lust for violence and killings, we are inching back to settling down to life in Ye Olde Port Royal and a measure of rum. Carl

  2. My first article…..finally someone saying it……Most if not all of us Jamaicans r corrupt. I know all could not be mentioned so let me add ……My Child don’t pass for the school I want, so I pay a track coach/teacher to get my child in. 2) Doctors using government theater to do surgery for public patient to jump the line(registered as public but Dr roasting on the Job etc. 3)We we breach the building plan so we pay a money to fix or contractors paying to pass house, gas stations etc. We Jamaicans love the corruption especially when we are benefiting. But we cuss politician every day….We love PJ and hated Seaga who was shown to not be involved in corruption as he left Gov owing money to Banks which we use as joke.

  3. Interesting.

    Like any other good or service, there has to be both demand and supply. I believe what stands out is that those who can either afford to or make a conscious choice to be corrupt are just as culpable.

    About a decade or more ago, my husband was to get his license at the May Pen Depot. He was told by another Claredonian, that unless he paid, he would not get it. Well, I bought the books for the driver’s license test (red and green) and said: “you can read, right?”

    To cut a long story short, he got his license without paying anything extra. I, like many other Jamaicans, believe we should not have to pay extra for something that our tax dollars already partly contribute to.

    “Shortcuts draw blood”. I do not know if our younger generation hear this term as much as I did growing up. Too many of us like shortcuts. We see corruption but only when it does not involve us. When we indulge, we minimize it and pass it off as the norm, not seeing how we are a part of the problem.

    There are certain things that will not happen to me. I will not bribe a policeman and neither will I be solicited to give a bribe because the moment I am stopped, it is clear that I will not be entertaining anything illegal. Jus’ gimme me ticket mek me gwaan. More often than not, though I have not received one recently, it was for speeding. If I choose to speed, it is a risk I take and if I am stopped, I have no one to blame but myself. As a parent, I cannot preach personal responsibility and accountability to my children and then act contrary to that. I would be a hypocrite.

    So, in essence, corruption occurs because people are operating in multiple and opposing value systems, as it suits them. We all need to do better!

    I have often laughed about this but it is not funny. Years ago, I was driving along Highway 2000. A juice truck had broken down and the driver went to get assistance. A pastor I knew was driving by and just like other people looting the truck, he helped himself.

    My daughter was in the car and I made sure she saw what was happening. A church sister was in the car with the pastor. This is the same lady who sent me notes when my kids were absent from church for too long with the message “The Devil makes work for idle hands”. I never appreciated that message so it had no effect on me. It was ironic though.

    Corruption exists and permeates all segments of our society because of the competing value systems. We are a bipolar society, populated with religion and criminality. I guess we need therapy.

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