GUYANA: WHEN ROGUES RULE

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It’s not just only that the misconduct charges against Ashni Singh and Winston Brassington were withdrawn by the APNU/SOCU Special Prosecutor, even when it was evident that the two were engaged in multiple financial deeds that were not of benefit to the general population, to whose service they were entrusted.

It’s that both Singh and Brassington have been redeployed with new immunity and financial portfolios to serve a government under lead operatives tattooed with similar stains.

And the national budget, with billions allocated for roads and bridges in broad swath for a project of questionable efficacy and headed by Brassington, serve as a bruising reminder of how these two esteemed members of the Rogues Gallery of Creative Accounting complement each other, when it comes to finding ledger categories to log expenditures that never yield returns to the whole electorate.

Based upon what road intersection and networks study, traffic data collection, cost allocation study, is Singh assigning 23.7 billion to roads and bridges?

And that 3.6 billion for the Linden/ Mabaruma connection?

Again?

How many times is a PPP administration allowed to budget (pg21) for a road to Mabaruma and call it a new project?

Could be that Singh is replaying a previously successful move, that of slushing tax payers’ dollars through the national budget but infrastructure in Guyana is not a deficit in isolation.

A great part of the problem, say many, starts with the lack of enforcement of construction and zoning rules by the City Council and Town and Country Planning agencies, which impede the conduct and flow of traffic.

Cited are the East and West Bank of the Demerara River and construction projects which so violate the planning pledge of “Orderly and Progressive Development to Improve Amenities”, that the removal of parapets and pedestrian pathways have become normalized.

The Shore Base business phenomenon that imports, warehouses then transports to and from vendors, was singled out for special contribution to the traffic mayhem because, it is said, they flout restrictions flagrantly and without penalty…considering that their businesses only expand in the face of their overleaping violations.

The road to vehicle ratio, it is thought, gives the current overlords a sense of an appearance of development and business but, to the extent that development is progress, traffic that exponentially exceeds available thruways is a counterproductive component that stifles commerce, removes the enjoyment in commuting that taxpayers pay for and of, course, makes for pollution from idling vehicles that will tear up the ozone, increase regional haze, all while contributing generously to Climate Change- an affliction Guyana’s below- sea -level coast line cannot tolerate.

And the human cost in terms of lives lost cannot be overshadowed by a rogue government’s preference for profit at the cost of road fatalities.

Not sure if Guyana’s signature to the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 that pledge a commitment to reducing vehicular deaths is in the purview of this PPP cadre that occupies government, since they are applying the ‘Salt Goods Shop’ mentality to running the Ship of State.

But the insensitive commentary from the Minister of Public Works, whose ‘feature address’ built nexus of rising road fatalities to “one beer less”, highlights a cavalierness that’s the feature of ineptitude when coexisting with corruption that dares accountability.

On its current network of roads, not built for 18/24 wheelers or the weight of stationary tonnage due to predictable traffic jams, there is collective lament over the maneuvering of oversized vehicles, which take an inordinate amount of time to engage a turn on roads that are not constructed to accommodate their massive dimensions.

This aberration to planning forces pedestrian traffic into the roads which, ungoverned by enforced laws and overseen by patrol police not educated on traffic rules, make for the high occurrence of vehicular death. 

To the extent that corruption has been internalized into the practice of governing, there’s a disproportionality of what the ordinary man, who is typically the ethnic enemy of the current dictatorship, is allowed to enjoy.

That’s another conversation.

But right now, in the scramble for lands close to waterways and main transportation arteries by those who can take advantage of the legalized lawlessness that give away the purpose of parapets and pedestrian easement to the highest bidders, usually of lowest morals and social compunction, there is a corrosive component that the ruling rogues care not of because their priority is controlling the economy and holding the keys to the Treasury…apparently.

The road to financial salvation now runs through Shore Base Warehousing.

Land buying for this purpose has increased substantially with a concurrent price hike of land in these prime areas.

Traffic congestion along routes to market add to the cost of production in other industries like Timber, Fisheries, Sugar, Rice, Gold and Diamonds and wharf space renting, making the costs of export products higher and less competitive.

Can’t forget local food supply chains which would increase local consumer costs, either.

Onset of Dutch Disease – the sacrificing of revenue from one industry to favor the promotion of another – may be the diagnosis of a professional evaluating the calculated mismanagement of bribe-prone resources by the current rulers.

But many call it the more apt ‘Guyanese Disease’ – when a profusion of industry resources collides with a government by a Party with a robust reputation for corruption, erosion of social capital and an undisputed appetite for civil conflict, all of which fail to enhance citizen welfare.

The take away here is that the Ashni Singh’s budget for billions for roads should not be the typical allocation of funds to some opaque endeavor.

Extraneous effort by the other arm of Government- the check and balance constitutionally formulated Opposition – must be made to ensure that money spent on reconstruction would yield lasting benefits to the national economy.

Moratorium on the sale of lands for Shore Base ventures should be imposed, if there is genuine intent to use the budgeted funds to construct roads to ease congestion.

Makes sense, since a plan to correct bad planning couldn’t be effected if bad practices are allowed to continue in the midst of remedial attempts.

Contractors must be genuine and not politically selected conduits to slush funds…which is the specialty of the Singh, Brassington, Jagdeo combo…as the NICIL loss on the backs of the Guyanese tax per, would suggest.

And, a sustained mission to reverse lawless practices must be centered on property construction as well, especially in accordance with the Nation’s Town and Country Planning 20:01 .

The current skyline, interrupted by a tortured heap of towers sized more by the fee to violate the law and an unrestrained gaudiness to tout wealth, more than any damn construction sense, is told through buildings like the one in the feature pic above, the old GIMPEX building on Regent Street on the block between Camp and Wellington Streets.

In a suspended state of incompletion, due to violations that range from structural unsoundness to damage to adjacent foundations, it is said, this teetering six story tower is as much of a middle finger to zoning propriety, as it is a salute to the level of lawlessness that exists when Government under the current Party marauds.

There was a time when governing included protecting our history by observing laws that enforced zoning and architectural preservation.

With demonstrably little inclination for this level of patriotic pride, the current Government has incentivized the decimation of our architectural history by removing taxes from building materials, ON ALL BUILDING TYPES, violating behemoths not excluded.

Can’t not mention the public concern expressed for violations by a BM SOATE whose renovations, it is said, allows for the driving of steel and concrete piles into the Croal Street trench interrupting drainage, without City citation or State Planning intervention.

A State of Exception… that concept by dictatorships to transcend the law in the name of ‘common good’.

History proves that it survives only to the extent that Opposition fails to hold Government accountable, retreating to internal grumblings instead of highlighting the devolution of democracy at pertinent forums.

Got to close with some reference to the ecosystem that functions without favor, even to those who feel they are out of its reach when they mock and celebrate the illness of others.

Bharrat Jagdeo, it is reported, is now victim of the throat form of the very illness of his predecessor that many in his Party reveled in on media…ascribing it to an evil that only that strain of humanity is mutated to conjure.

His trips to Havana are not flown on the banners of doom his supporters used during the treatment of his predecessor, nor are their prayers for Bharrat’s Georgetown based Cuban doctor to be like the one who treated the founder the Opposition Party that remains his nemesis.

Hmmm….

The extreme wear and tear on normal decency and the custom of respect for those in ill health that came from Jagdeo and his Party still bear heavily on us.

And, you expected us to end this with the clichéd ‘best wishes?’

Naw…we good.  

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