THE EDITOR: Shut down the country. Take your money out of the bank. Withhold your labour. These are the suggestions that come up time and time again when citizens of TT feel aggrieved by action or inaction by the government of the day.
What happens after we take such drastic action? What are the changes we expect? Why are we not speaking about those changes now? It seems our people know what is wrong and who is to blame but seem reluctant to take the opportunity to determine the solutions or a path forward.
Over the last 15 years through the Democratic Party of TT (DPTT) and on my personal behalf, I have been promoting a path forward for our nation. That clearly defined path found online at www.dptt.org.tt is anchored in a belief that governance must always be about service to our citizens. Our government offices must be places of comfort and efficiency, not confusion or disenchantment.
There is little to gain from protesting if we do not know what we are protesting for. We must agree on a vision for TT. The DPTT’s vision is a good starting point for the discussion. Disagree with every aspect if necessary but for heaven’s sake let us determine where we want to be and how we plan to get there.
The DPTT’s vision calls for a decentralised structure of government where communities are empowered to manage their infrastructure and enhance government services in the community. It calls for structured police patrols and a new approach to community policing that promotes proactive policing as opposed to reactive policing from stations.
It calls for a new approach to conflict resolution that dismisses old court cases that clog up our courts, a system of plea bargaining, special courts and harsh penalties for all offences that threaten the lives of our citizens, and restructuring our prison system to be places rehabilitation.
The vision seeks to create new permanent jobs through community maintenance, the introduction of park rangers to secure State lands and promote eco-tourism and the employment of various new employees as we restore our heritage sites and buildings.
It envisages building a new network of roads, the integration of a light rail system with upgrades to our public transportation system and restructuring our tourism package in partnership with the private sector.
That new vision seeks to invest heavily in agriculture to not only be able to feed ourselves but to be the food basket of the Caribbean as we produce and manufacture food products for export.
It restructures our economy from a largely single-sector energy-based source of income to a multi-faceted approach that partners with our business community in tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and marine services, as well as new approaches to managing our energy sector.
We are in this nation together, one people, and our path forward must be clear. The emphasis must shift from major projects that benefit the few to projects that benefit a nation. The time has come for us to realise that simply flipping the proverbial coin each election is not the way.
The TT election coin has no tails, just heads. One of East Indian ancestry and the other of African ancestry. It is time to change the coin. Let us embrace the future together and start by agreeing on the path that can lead to a better TT. Only after agreeing on the path can we seek to agree on who will or can lead us there.