(By Patrick Ferrari) – Parliament, September 1, 2017: The Prime Minister, with irrepressible satisfaction, comparing what his government has done in respect of taxes and duties on the school buses with what the NDP did in the early aughts.
The ULP’s benchmark for politic success, it seems, is to best what they met in 2001. Sixteen years obsolete by other standards. And if they don’t make the mark, someone simply makes an ipse dixit pronouncement that they did. Ju Ju with his “I know,” is particularly good at that.
Defending the indefensible hellhole that is called the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, the Prime Minister said that what goes on now in the concrete building is better than what it was in 2001. Not even Trump goes as far back as George Bush.
Better was a 2000 manifesto promise; not a bragging right sixteen years hence. Better was an expectation – thirteen ago. We did not expect them to wave a wand, but sixteen years on? I don’t think so.
You know, it’s like the proverbial employer who asks the prospective employee, “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” If, seventeen years ago, when on the campaign trail the people had asked, “Comrade, where do you see Health five years from now?” And he told us, “Give me four inna row and I’d make it better than what you got now,” he would – or should – have been tossed out on his head.
Somebody suggested to me that the Ministry of Health has shares in the undertaking business. A reasonable proposition, I’d say, since that kind of scandalous shenanigans has gone on, unpunished, before: Glen Beache with his Lonsdale Advertising and Marketing Communications (SVG) Ltd.; and Allan Alexander with his Kardab Investments Ltd.
Alexander made a killing and Beache may have disbanded his “(SVG)” operations but the parenthesis is a powerful indication that there could (still) be other associated Lonsdales, lurking. Trinidad, perchance? So maybe the MOH cashing in to profit from their failures is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Grotesque? Yes. Unlikely? Don’t make me laugh.
Now, the other debacle: The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority. That mess is at least as bad as the first thing I mentioned. Albeit, with two big differences. The Port does not, thank Jah, deal with personal suffering (but close) and death; and the Port has never, not since 1963, been more bad than it is now.
Is only another ipse dixit statement can say different. And such would have to come from those who do not go down there; unless for a stem-winder and a photo op. Or by those who get their information second-hand; from the rats guarding the cheese; that is, their jobs.
One of the two Container Handling Units at Campden Park Port (St. Lucia has four) leaks so much oil that, to their credit, they try not to use it. Try. The one in Kingstown limps along unmerrily. Just the other day, it stalled three times lifting a flat rack for me. And, after they use the Campden Park prolific leaker, they run around pouring decontamination chemicals in a much wasted effort to clean up the mess.
What they achieve by doing that, though, is to spread out the mess, thin it up so that it looks less ominous. But isn’t. Ask the environment or the marine life which is worse, the contaminating oil or the decontaminating chemical? But, pray, do not ask the toadies who were sent to close down Bigger Bigs for spilling, if he did at all, less than a thimbleful by comparison.
Some weeks aback, the powers that be decided to have the environmental menace repaired. At long last. Hold your bravos, though. It took two days of dismantling to get to the source of the leak. And, as the technician was about to do the fix, the powers sent an updated message: put it back up just so; we need it. Right. The technician, by the way, has been hired from Dominica. “We” are too damn backward, too damn cheap, too damn short-sighted and too damn fiscally vacant to have trained one of our own. Give them fish, don’t teach them to fish. The stupid jackasses.
I was at the port when the only working machine – not the leaker – came to a grinding halt. The hydraulic oil level was too low. It needed topping up – forty-five gallons of the stuff. Wait. No. Not forty-five. It needed more but they did not have the time to fill it right up. You see, they were working a ship and could not delay the ship – further.
I have seen them pull the one working machine off the job, in the middle of the day … to pump the tyres. Have you seen the size of the tyres? Do you know how long it takes to pump one? That machine, it works all the time, has a transmission problem and it has been that way for more than two years. But, hey, it is “working,” right? So why do the right thing when it is troublesome to do, and it is no trouble to do the wrong thing and the wages are the same?
Wednesday gone, a typical Port Wednesday when the Tropical vessel is in, us truckers could not get containers loaded, and merchants, like C.K Greaves, could not get containers in position to work (unstuff) except during the ship’s lunch break; and when the ship is finished, which is usually 3 p.m-ish. On Wednesdays, our day virtually starts with overtime.
I went there at 2:05 pm and left with my one container at 3:20. At that time, my driver had managed to get one container (out of six; lunch hour) and was waiting for the second – and he arrived before 9 a.m. CK trucks and crew were there, too. They were getting paid – as was my driver – to twiddle their thumb and stare at one another. That is how it is going to be next Wednesday. And the next. Ditto. And, don’t doubt, Wednesday is not the only waste time day because Tropical is not the only vessel that calls.
Untouched by their gross mismanagement and unconcerned for the financial loss they are causing us, the incompetent bozos strut about the place, counterfeiting control and assuming importance like if the situation is normal. Therein lies the whole problem: the mess is normal – to them. They see nothing broken, so, there’s nothing to fix. They know good that their boss would give them, himself and his party a pass mark with the ipse dixit, politically fraught caveat, “it is better now than it was in 2001.”
Unless Ralph sets a realistic benchmark and changes his attitude towards meritocracy, this is where the glorious new port is headed, before it arrives.
It is so with roads, too. Watch the roads them. Now, watch the man in charge of roads. Then, watch his private business track record. And while you watching, watch, too, his election results track record. But he still minister, yes?
So, Comrade, stop chasing obsolete goals. Aim higher.