Again and again
THE OLD YEAR HAS ENDED and the new begun on this unrelenting entreaty to do good on our roads. And it would not be unreasonable to conclude that the urgent pleading has arisen out of crisis – epitomized by the horrific deaths of one driver and a mother child in the last fortnight.
But where were the intervenors in the regular run of the last year, when car and truck drivers were parking on sidewalks, forcing pedestrians dangerously into the way of traffic?
Where were they when offending drivers had parked their vehicles outside Kensington Oval – for football and reggae extravaganzas – right up to the traffic lights on Fontabelle, making it difficult and precarious for law-abiding citizens to traverse Holborn?
Where were these intervenors when overly spirited young wheelers were barrelling along on the ABC Highway – up and down – at speeds exceeding 100 kilometres an hour? Where were they when in the heat of the night hot rods were scratching off from gas stations, their usual places of rendezvous?
Where were the intervenors when the foolish and inconsiderate motorcyclists were doing the wheelie past my car and others in front of me, manoeuvring my heart into nigh cardiac arrest?
Regrettably, it takes the perishing of a few people or more on our roads before our national conscience is pricked; before somebody says: “Enough is enough!” And then that is only for a while.
At the root of our social ills is the inability to be rid of bad things – and, worse, of bad people. Our resolve now is no longer “Stop it!”, “Away with it!”, “Begone!”, we are deeply into “moderation” instead: the right of others to do wrong things in small dosages, so things are ostensibly not ruffled that much.
People will insist on that small extra drink, even though they will suffer a hangover. They will get over it! After all, a hangover is “a fact of life”, and one should not recuse oneself from the case of living.
Lager lovers will sip gently on cases and cases of beer because they are “three for ten”, never mind they overwork the kidneys and bladder, surreptitiously numb the skull, and verily slur one’s speech. It worries the beer drinkers less that they will be far more sluggish in bed when they go home to their wives. One consolation is that these habitual – and sometimes addictive – rituals of libation are not contagious.
Truth be told, most of us know exactly what we should do: drink less alcohol (you can get vitamin C other than in rum punch), eat proper food; stop smoking up people and the place; do some jogging or other exercise; cut out the cuss words, keep a clean tongue and pure mind; stop the littering, embrace B’s Recycling.
Did you see the disgusting overflowing drums and other piles of garbage outside homes across Barbados at Christmas? The Sanitation Services Authority (SSA) trucks had apparently gone for servicing themselves. And flies dropped in for cake and sorrel.
Yes, homeowners should be responsible enough to check on the SSA pickup routine at holiday times like this and not just put out their waste willy-nilly, but the Sanitation people have a duty to make the public fully aware of what their clean-up plan is. This guessing game of garbage collection at Christmas is unacceptable.
Really, we need to dump less – a practice the Government would do well to constantly enforce – and be more eager to recycle. How on earth can one rationally explain the filth, degradation and unsightliness that continue to punctuate Pleasant View in St Michael?
Rotting lumber, discarded TVs, animal skin? Let’s face it, we know this is the kind of dumping we shouldn’t do, but we won’t stop unless the Ministry of the Environment makes recycling of specific items compulsory. We have become a people who must be constrained to do what is right.
It may not be enough through GIS to inform us civilly of the benefits of recycling and sustainable living though. The Government, in addition to the compulsoriness, may have to reward those who recycle and produce less waste, as much as they punish those who kick the idea. Inducement has its good.
• Ridley Greene is a Caribbean multi-award-winning journalist. Email [email protected]