Bim is no Rome; let it not burn!
Around 64 AD, a great fire consumed Rome over a period of a week, and turned more than 65 per cent of the city into charred rubble. History suggests Emperor Nero played the fiddle as the city burnt, and as the multitude endured the horror of the furnace.
Of course, in fairness to Nero, it is common knowledge that the fiddle was created more than 1,000 years later. Maybe, Nero played another instrument. But whether the tale is fact or fiction, the point is made of a leader’s indifference and misplaced priorities.
We hold no brief for either of our two main political parties. Both have played important roles in the country’s development and both have been guilty of monumental bleeps, blunders and questionable financial practices. From CARSICOT to Hardwood to the Greenland Landfill stand equally exposed. But recent events in the country suggest not only are there a few Neros in our midst, but they are all alive and well.
We note with some degree of amusement that Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe, in true soapbox fashion, has eagerly jumped on the back of the wagon of the same-sex relationships debate. Of course, he is entitled to his opinion and to preach it to whomever would lend him an ear. He has also recently been pontificating about opinions expressed by citizens via Internet blogs.
His comments have not all been without substance, but surely Barbadians would prefer to hear why across the island garbage is piling up in front of the homes and businesses of citizens engaged in heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual relationships. They would prefer, undoubtedly, to listen to reassurances about when the problem will be alleviated and what his ministry intends to do to ensure a suitable number of trucks from the Sanitation Service Authority remain on the road to service the island.
Barbadians are paying more taxes –– inclusive of the Municipal Solid Waste Tax –– to facilitate myriad social services; and Mr Lowe would do his Christ Church East constituents and the rest of Barbados a great service by offering explanations far removed from empty verbose and self-serving rhetoric, as to why his ministry appears to be on autopilot.
Recently, a citizen was arrested and charged with making malicious comments via the blog. It is a matter which is sub judice and we will not comment on the merits or demerits of the criminal charge, or its place on the scale of important things that should be addressing the attention of our Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley. Like thousands of other Barbadians, we await not only the verdict, but the important conclusions vented during final deliberations.
While we wait, though, perhaps Mr Lashley could enlighten Barbadians on why Government’s road rehabilitation programme, including that at Warrens in St Michael, proposes to acquire more land belonging to homeowners, having not compensated them for land previously taken over.
Our checks have revealed that there are a number of previous landowners who have been waiting for more than 15 years for compensation. The law speaks specifically to such acquisitions and the rights of landowners, but successive Governments appear bent on flouting the law.
Though Mr Lashley is no longer responsible for the Ministry of Housing and Land, perhaps he can point us in the direction where answers may be found to several questions related to the housing projects at Coverley, Christ Church, and Constant, St George. Most of these questions relate to the lack of occupancy at the former and the continued hiatus at the latter, as well as contractual arrangements, financial payments and outlay.
Our health service, on the surface, seems to be in a shambles. We hope that this is mere illusion. But the cries of woe are coming from those closest to the sector –– the doctors, pharmacists and patients. Doctors are often criticized for speaking out as though their complaints are some breach of the Hippocratic Oath. But Barbadians – some waiting two and three years for surgical procedures –– deserve answers and assurances of imminent improvement.
Too often, what comes out of the Ministry of Health and from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s administrative hierarchy resembles well rehearsed public relations platitudes and poppycock. No Government should respond to criticisms of its inefficiencies and deficiencies by trying to muzzle the populace, or even prosecuting and persecuting its citizenry.
A sensible Government listens to those complaints and acts appropriately for the good of country. Barbados is not yet burning; but Nero seems to be fiddling feverishly at every street corner.