Our Quality of Life
-Visiting two Banks of the Demerara
“Quality” is intended to refer to the standard of living we here “enjoy”. But what “standard”?
This will be a narrative in negativity. Sadly it is our reality that can’t or shouldn’t be dodged, avoided. But these lamentations get me, get us nowhere, substantially. So why persist with pessimism? Because it might just touch the souls of those in authority. The record here may even inspire ordinary readers to react to do little significant things toward higher levels – and, eventually, excellence.
As I near seventy, I despair that our social life as Guyanese citizens, in a so–called independent state, is far from desireable when viewed in the context of the following paragraph.
Pause to realize these basics: our Big, Beautiful, Blighted Guyana is 83,000 square miles, some 215,000 sq kilometers in size. Our geographical position on the globe spares us the yearly wrath of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes or tsunamis, but exposes us to flooding (which could be minimized but for our own man–made negligence or incompetence.) Our land and rivers are blessed “with abundant resources deemed and made worthy to a world (market) which craves the gold, bauxite, manganese, diamonds, uranium, semi–precious stones, marine products, sugar, rice, lumber, even virgin, pristine forests – to name just the major items we own.
Our various groups co–exist relatively peacefully, so investment and the industrial environment should be attractive and attracted here. (Yes, I know that manufacturing here is often compromised by bureaucracy and the high cost of electric power, along with the now–expected element of intimidatory corruption.)
But my frustration always threatens when I realize that Antigua, Barbados or the Bahamas do not boast our resources, yet those folks enjoy far higher levels of daily living than we do. Why? How come?
Concerned and responsible citizens of my generation will admit that our Guyana of the forties, fifties, sixties was no zenith, no ultimate in the highest standards of living for us in the working class. But our moral compass pointed to that direction which was wholesome, desireable and of some “class”. Attitudes to right and wrong, cleanliness, the upbringing of children and (even) good dressing habits, were behaviours to be upheld. Despite poverty and need!
Today, it is my contention, that although much money, much funding is needed to acquire the best quality and standards, it is not always the lack of finance. Frankly Speaking, often it is a now community-or national acceptance of mediocrity as a norm, the Nadir of criteria, “whuh-come-so-do” approaches, which typifies the low esteem we seem to have and accept.
Another tragedy, to me, is that today’s youth, poor them, are in no position to compare today’s Guyana’s depths to the higher levels which obtained during my time, forty years ago.
This generation enjoys modern technology, improved technological learning opportunities amidst low standards, mountains of garbage-and gross, crude behaviours that get them wounded and killed.
A sampling of what they – and we poor Guyanese have been reduced to: the most smelly, unsightly capital city in these parts (top politicians and rich business people occupy lovely offices just above garbage and stench – just check outside where our Parliament meets); uncouth, uncaring conductors controlling the poor-man’s minibus-public transportation; ferry terminals that are abominable; market places with blue coverings epitomizing poverty of standards generally accepted; a public cemetery that is a national forested disgrace; athletic and horse-racing tracks that make the small-islanders mock us silently- or openly.
I conclude the list. It’s unending. Our educational and health-care standards face challenges as elsewhere. As with road-construction and black-outs, I’ll not even bother with the Capital’s municipality.
This lamentation would be incomplete for me, if I did not re-emphasize this unfortunate truth: most of us now accept the Nadir, the mediocrity as the norm. “It’s no big thing”. We and our children go ‘outside’ to enjoy other people’s standards. (What is to be done?) Discuss…
A Sunday on
I personalize this “outing” to share it. On Sunday just past, I was taken to see the back of Eccles, Diamond and Parfait-Harmonie. Like Christopher Columbus who belatedly “discovered” places where people already were, I discovered these Housing Projects and varied thoughts assailed me.
Obviously, visually, physically, certain groups of Guyanese predominate in certain places. Watch out for the Eccles Industrial Park, privately owned. The road to the facility should be up-graded now, but why is the Haags-Bosch landfill closed on Sundays and before midnight?
Eccles and Diamond should be case studies for efficient, resource-provided, (civic) local governance. City-oriented government and development. Dare I hope?
Parfait Harmonie is indeed a vast residential undertaking. Unlike the other two, I toured, poor Parfait has no roads, no appeal as yet. The poorer – as in Sophia – are now trying to assert. My heart goes out…
*1) Name three (3) members of parliament boasting dual citizenship – contrary to our constitution, but would weep to give up the foreign passport.
*2) After reading my recent piece on Private Security Services, a reader reminded me that I had posited that the older guards could do nothing to young bandits, nor would they testify in court trials. Scared!
*3) Bet you today’s budget raises pensions and salaries. What …?
*4) Coming soon: Trade Unions – why still relevant?
*5) Viva-West Indies! What would Forbes Burnham have told the West Indies Board?
Til next week!