The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].
As we move towards another general election in St Vincent and the Grenadines there are many promises being made by the two main political parties. One such promise is the repair of existing or construction of new roads. I believe that the road network in our country is in great need of repair. However, I am not convinced it is a prospect that a government can deal with.
We as Vincentians need to move away from a notion of entitlement and realise that we each have responsibilities as citizens. We have a responsibility to financially support the upkeep of our country. Sad to say we have a lax tax administration that continues to milk certain individuals while many persons are allowed to get away without paying their fair share of taxes.
Too many loopholes and not adequate implementation and enforcement of the applicable laws as it relates to taxation. If individuals are robbing the government of tax revenues then they should have the common decency to stop criticising the state of affairs, as progress takes money. I am a strong proponent of the view that citizens need to pay for what a country wants.
Beyond that, in direct relation to our roads, we not only need the financial resources but the mindset of our people realising that there are consequences to our actions. In St. Vincent, we have a regular collection of garbage to most, if not all, communities in our state. Yet we still have the issue of the profligate strewing of garbage all over. Vincentians were glad for the reopening of KFC but sad to say it has made the parking lot and surrounding areas seem like a large garbage dump.
Sometimes I have to clear the drain in front my house and more than 50 per cent of what is in the drain is post consumer content. As far as I know, there are no trees bearing plastic bottles and Styrofoam containers. These items block the drains and cause them to overflow, and research has shown what many of us know, the flooding of the roads causes them to have a shorter effective usefulness.
The issue of diseases also comes to mind as I think of how some of my countrymen treat this island. We complain about rodents and mosquitoes and the various diseases that they carry yet if we reduce the blockage of the drains we can greatly reduce the populations of these pests.
We say we want to have an effective tourism product but many times we do not see a lot of spill-off from tourism because when tourist see the conditions of our drains and roads, they decide it is best just to stay in a tour bus or on the ship and enjoy the country from afar.
I know for myself I refuse to purchase any items from vendors in Kingstown who do not have the common decency to take their garbage with them when they are finished plying their trade. The drains are not a dump for wilted cabbage leaves and other things they may take from their produce to make it seem more attractive.
Our construction practices also play a major role in the reduction in the usefulness of our roads. Many times as I traverse this island and come upon potholes, it is because someone has allowed the run off water from their property to flow directly into the road, especially from driveways, but also through PVC pipes spouting the water directly unto the asphalt surface that most of our roads are made from. I know there are now building codes in place but as far as I can tell, there is nothing in place to deal retroactively with these issues.
I wish I had the figures at hand as to what the annual cost amounts to for repairs to roads due to our dumping of garbage in the drains, rivers and on the roads. But I know if it were reduced we could then put it towards the repair or construction of new roads a well as other areas that can help our people move forward.
We are greatly diminishing the effectiveness of our already stressed civil infrastructure by our actions.
I just wish that we as Vincentians can realise that the power to move our country forward not only lies in the power of our right to vote but in our willingness to do our part in helping to move this country forward by changing our daily habits and bit by bit we can see progress. This country does not belong to the ULP or NDP it is our country and we need to do our part in building and maintaining it.
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