Garth Rattray | That little bit of inconvenience
My all-time favourite core subject was 'The use of English'. Although some 45 years have elapsed, I still remember the principles of what I learnt and how they apply to everyday life. People use language not only to communicate on a personal level, but also educate the public or to misinform and beguile (fool up people).
I have dedicated several of my weekly columns to the (un)holy mess caused by the legacy roadworks, especially along the Constant Spring and Hagley Park road corridors. We were told of the upcoming road improvements many years ago. No one is against 'progress', but we are distressed and dismayed by the way that the work is being carried out.
Many lives have been, are being and will be adversely affected by the redundant, callous, unsafe and irresponsible way that much of the work is being done.
Many citizens suffer in silence because those who speak out are often branded as 'PNP'. The threat of being labelled as an opposition supporter is how various administrations silence dissenting voices. Well, I am no 'P'. I've remained non-aligned in order to maintain my independence. I'm free to praise or condemn either political party.
It's extremely disturbing to watch the recent ad being run in an attempt to assuage the concerns of the many citizens who are badly affected by the everlasting legacy roadwork projects. It insults our intelligence and makes light of our suffering.
The ad goes something like this: "We're seeing significant roadworks taking place in our country, and while it may be a little bit of an inconvenience, we'll all benefit in the end."
I take serious umbrage to the statement "... it may be a little bit of an inconvenience, we'll all benefit in the end". It's not a matter that it MAY be a little bit of an inconvenience, it is a hell of a lot of many inconveniences.
I feel personally affronted by that disrespectful and feeble attempt to downplay what hundreds of thousands of people and thousands of businesses are going through every single day, and there will be no easing up for about another year.
I know of several communities that have been without water for months, some for weeks, and many only get (very low pressure) water in the dead of the night, for a few hours. That's certainly not "a little bit of an inconvenience". The newborn babies, frail elderly and everyone in-between must constantly eat, drink and inhale dust 24/7 near construction zones. Dust covers everything and has been causing many respiratory illnesses. A little bit of an inconvenience indeed!
From dust to muddy roads, to no sidewalk, to no transportation, to dangerous open trenches and ditches, to dangerous heavy machinery, to no signage in detours and uninformed flag personnel, to destroyed telephone lines/Internet connections (that still generate monthly bills), the inconveniences are horrendous and interminable.
The ad speaks to police assistance. Well, that has waned significantly. To add insult to injury, there is a verbal apology: "... we're sorry for the inconvenience caused ...".
I grew up with this Jamaican phrase, "Sorry cyaan buy solja lorry". It means that an apology without substance is worthless.
If the National Works Agency were truly sorry, it would protect Jamaicans from a foreign company riding roughshod over our rights. It would see to it that trenches and ditches are properly secured and not repeatedly dug up and refilled; the dust suppressed; flag personnel educated; signage for all detours erected; access to residences and business places provided; water supply put back on track; telephones and the Internet were kept working, and telephone numbers designated to accept emergency calls from citizens in distress because of the legacy roadworks.