By Tyrone James

From time to time we meet drivers with big, shiny, state-of-the-art cars driving on our roads. Many times, those drivers can only use forward gears. They turn straight corners, cannot park or reverse. Many times, they have to seek assistance and get someone to reverse for them (This illustration is in no way an objection to persons with those cars but merely to make my point). It is also the case that the crew accompanying the drivers appear incapable of positively impacting the performance of those at the wheel.

I use the illustration to highlight the dilemma in which Vincentians now find themselves, with a driver and crew who went out of their way to exalt themselves as credible drivers.  Over the last 18 years, the vehicle that is the State of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has been driven along a course that has literally divided the people, created a population of dependents, devastated the economy and left the people in a tailspin of rising crime, record murder rates, violence against women, poverty, nepotism, corruption and victimization, among others.

When we see someone behind a wheel we have some expectation of competence, but, alas, since Gonsalves and the Unity Labour Party (ULP) wrested control of this country from the people, the quality of lives of ordinary Vincentians have plummeted to an all-time low. What is noticeable are the long lines seeking remittances from families and friends in the diaspora and from what we call, “Poor Relief”. Parents are now forced to send their little boys and girls on the streets to sell sweets and corn curls to make ends meet. From time to time, you would see them accosting adults or running between the traffic to ply their wares — a human tragedy in the making. Increasingly, it appears that scores of our young girls and women now turn to selling their bodies for pittance, in their own efforts at meeting the challenges of living in SVG under the ULP regime.

The evidence that the driver is incompetent was clear in the IMF report that set youth unemployment in 2017 at a record 46 per cent.  With students graduating into the work market annually, the dwindling of an already small manufacturing sector and businesses (especially local) laying off workers or being closed, the present youth unemployment figures should now be over 50 per cent.  One of the worst economic tragedies of our time was bound up in the largest capital project in this country that cost this nation over one billion dollars.  This project was so sterile that it is opaquely difficult to identify one local service that benefitted from it. As it now stands, the lack of transparency over expenses on this project is matched only by the fact that currently, ‘the dance can’t pay for the lights’. Staffing appears to be a party project as much as was the construction.

The fact that the driver can’t drive is even more evident in the nation’s health sector.  Let us consider the state of our health system. While Vincentians are being told that our health system is second to none, the reality at our medical institutions and our general healthcare system leaves much to be desired. The reality for the average Vincentian is a veritable nightmare in the face of the heart-wrenching tales of pain, suffering and neglect experienced by an ever-increasing number of our people. In the meantime, the Prime Minister seeks his medical attention overseas, the airport is open to fly the families of ULP ministers and supporters out for broken limbs and other minor ailments and their wives travel to other countries to deliver their children.

How can we accept the lack of nutritional meals at our main medical institution?

How can we accept no toilet for patients and visitors to use?

How can we accept leaking holes in our surgeries?

How can we accept the re-use of syringes?

How can we accept lack of technical staff such as anaesthetist, so critical to conducting surgery?

How can we accept a dearth of doctors and nurses especially when we seem to be graduating nurses every year?

How can we have patients requiring X-rays and ultrasound on a waiting list for months?

How can we accept the lack of basic medical supplies?

In the wake of labour love, the once bastion of Vincentian pride, the National Commercial Bank was sold, the National Insurance Services is now a cash cow for the ULP government, while the age for workers to receive pensions are extended willy-nilly. You realise that the Government was not paying into the NIS the deductions from workers’ salaries? Look at the Ju-c building fiasco. The seesawing of the costs and potential buyers appear to have been all aimed at ensuring that in the end there is nothing but a cloud of smoke and a seeming absence of transparency. As a masterstroke, the Government has borrowed money from the NIS and went back to that institution to borrow monies to repay the debt. While on this, has the National Lottery repaid the $6.5 million borrowed for sport infrastructure on the eve of the 2015 general elections?

It has always been evident that the ULP has nothing to offer Vincentians but rhetoric. However, with the overwhelming evidence with which we are confronted, it is more than pellucid that the “driver can’t drive”.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

9 replies on “The driver can’t drive: the plight of SVG”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    Which project cost over $EC 1 billion? Certainly not the airport at Argyle. To be sure, it has turned out to be stillborn and is operating at a net national loss but cost far less than half this amount.

    Also, a’government provided x-ray can be obtained in a few minutes for a few dollars as I found out in late March when I accompanied a friend to have one at the new health facility in Georgetown.

    The gross exaggeration in this propaganda piece does nothing except discredit its ULP-hating writer.

    1. Propaganda it is not, as a Canadian who has visited SVG many many times, the corruption is blatant, the services to good citizens is lacking, and the leaders get wealthy.
      This is a recipe for dictatorship, look to Venezuela for a mirror example of what is to come.
      Please protect your beautiful country, the value to the general population is right under your feet.
      Fight Corruption with everything you have so your children can prosper

      1. Help me understand the reason(s) you keep going to SVG. The writer shared many shortfalls in the country but I don’t see any positives. I too see this article as political propaganda. This does more damage than good, please tell us how the NDP will improve on what the ULP is doing, it is obvious that the nation is not at a standstill. I have visited SVG many times since the early 7Os. I see a country that has grown significantly especially during the past 10 plus years, It is a developing nation there will be short comings and shortfalls.

    2. C. Ben, the airport may not be worth 1 Billion EC but after the cost of all the heavy groundworks the estimates based on what is known by economists and accountants is that the airport cost the country close to 1.3 Billion, not 1 Billion EC. I believe the only person with the courage to come out and say the estimated cost, in public is Ivan O’Neal.
      Mr. O’Neal did not make up those estimates out of thin air, he knows what he is doing when it comes to such things. So does Arnheim Eustace but if I say anything about what he says you will come out with “guns blazing”. Your estimate of 500K is a drastic under estimate, even according to the PM!!! who will not release the evidence of what it all costs.

  2. Lawson allick says:

    Plummet from where Tyrone. I remember leaving st Vincent on a plane full of farm workers, heading to Canada. I did not get to enjoy my first plane ride, because I had to full out immigration for for every single person on board that plane, not a single one could read or write. You write this column as if svg was at some great highs. Which luxury vehicle the NDP left for the ULP to drive, you were actually referring to one of those old wooden country bus. You really had to be good to drive one of those.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Well. The ordinary people of SVG are better off economically than any time in our history.

      This is a fact that has little to do with whichever party is in power at the present time but with the will, ambition, and effort of our people at home and abroad.

  3. You should take your money and suggestions to help privatise the health care system in SVG. That would be awesome.

  4. Tell Tyrone James he need to relax…what does he has to show for his tenure at the CG and at RSS…hate when I see ppl like Tyrone speaking.

    1. Vincy Laywer says:

      This was my exact thought when I read the article and realized who penned it.

      Like you, I would love to know two effective changes the writer made when he was the head of any organizations.

      There is no doubt that SVG has far to go but I have seen progress. Look at Barbados, when a prior government leaves you in a dark place, not even a magician can pull you out.

      Mr. Allick’s analogy of “Which luxury vehicle the NDP left for the ULP to drive, you were actually referring to one of those old wooden country bus…” is SPOT ON!

      As the old saying goes” Fool ah talk but fool nah listen!”

Comments are closed.