As Jamaica struggles with the lashing from rains associated with Tropical Storm Nicole, I cannot help but reflect on the colossal failure of successive governments to invest adequately in planning and development for this country. Natural disasters always seem to highlight the sad state of this country’s infrastructure. From collapsed bridges to houses being swept away by flood waters; the story across the length and breadth of this country is that the rain reigns.
PM Golding and his excuse for a Transport & Works Minister, Mike Henry, are reported to have done an aerial tour of the island to access the damage, but I have a serious problem with the fact that 48 years after independence Jamaica still has reactive governments, instead of governments that are proactive. Why do we wait until the shit hits the fan before we try to solve our problems? Why did it take two, yes two, years for construction to begin on that bridge in Harbour View? Why were people allowed to re mount houses along the banks of the notorious Hope River? Where were the Ministries of Planning? Works? Housing? Where were the authorities charged with regulating the proper use of our lands? NEPA? And why is it that every time it rains in Jamaica, it pours? Where is the drainage systems? Why are whole roads being ripped apart? When will our leaders realise that development has to be sustainable? When and where? What will it take?
The Minister of Works is quoted as saying it will take an estimated 100 million dollars to repair the damage done to sections of the corporate area, will this money be spent wisely? Will the materials be used adequate and sufficient to withstand, say another lashing by rains? Or God forbid, hurricane? While the earthquake which happened in Haiti in January is nothing short of a tragedy, has Jamaica learned nothing from this? Development must be sustainable, it must be able to shake and still stand, water must be able to run and our lives not be eroded. Will we learn this time around or will the rains continue to reign?