THE EDITOR: The British with hundreds of years governing citizens left the people of TT with many simple solutions that seem to have eluded most of us. Perhaps it is pertinent to look at some of the simple things they did that are now exceedingly complex for us.
Flooding, for example, was tackled by building huge waterways like the dry river. These large-capacity waterways remain almost dry most of the year but channels the water generated by very heavy rainfall into the sea.
Our approach is a series of very expensive box drains that are easily clogged and cannot handle the capacity of water generated from heavy or prolonged rainfall. A series of man-made lakes and rivers in areas like Barrackpore and Mayaro could see an end to flooding in those areas.
The British tackled water supply and distribution by creating dams and artificial lakes and distributed the water through gravity. Examples are the Hollis Reservoir which was commissioned in 1936 and the artificial lakes in Pointe-a-Pierre to supply water to the oil refinery and at Usine Ste Madeline that was used to supply water to the sugar cane refinery nearby. Water tanks on the hills of Laventille and Lady Chancellor allowed for distribution through gravity.
Our solution to supply water to the industries in Point Lisas was to use salt water, have it desalinated through a very costly and complicated process and pay for it in US dollars. Additionally, we distribute water through an expensive and inefficient system of using pumps.
The British left us with laws and systems for governance through a community-based system of local government broken up into counties and wards. We removed those and put in their place a system of regional corporation management that has very little relation to the communities under their purview.
That system has led to an almost total collapse of the infrastructure of most of the rural communities like Matelot, Marac and Icacos. We inherited a train system that solved our traffic problem, we inherited laws for keeping pets, licensing vehicles including bikes, laws on truancy and systems to ensure that State lands are not occupied and exploited by squatters. These have either been ignored or replaced with systems that do not work.
Simple things like insisting that citizens separate their trash into paper, plastics, glass and miscellaneous garbage and have them picked up on separate days are overlooked. Instead the solution to recycling seems only possible through the creation of another State corporation. The simple task of hiring the head of the Police Service seems arduous and expensive.
Our attempt to dismiss the simple structures inherited from the British and replace them with our own structures are a failure. Our courts are clogged with cases that have not been heard for years, our prison system is poor, our infrastructure is failing, our security is threatened by a few indiscriminate criminals that seem to hold the entire nation at ransom and our quality of life is diminishing daily.
In spite of our apparent ineptitude, we seem to think that the Government should be responsible for running a transportation system, an airline, a petroleum company, a gas company, a vehicle maintenance company and a hundred more State companies.
It is time to restructure the way we manage our affairs. That is only possible if we entertain the views of non-traditional advisers and the structures of nations that have succeeded where we continue to fail.
STEVE ALVAREZ via e-mail