IT IS HISTORY, and nothing less, that will render the final verdicts over the prime ministerial tenures of Patrick Manning and Dr Keith Rowley. It is unfortunate, then, that open wrangling has erupted over the legacy of both in relation to housing, notwithstanding the fact that one is currently in power and Manning is long dead.
Given the dire shortage of affordable housing in the nation there is clearly a public interest in learning what factors have contributed to this shortage. The public has a right to know the details of taxpayer-funded projects that may have stalled or been delayed for various reasons. Further, the advent of court action in relation to any such projects – which are also defended using funds drawn from the public purse – are also definitely pertinent matters of which we should be apprised.
But such information should be accurate. And the context of facts presented are also essential to our understanding. Therefore, there is a duty on the part of all stakeholders to always ensure great care is taken when making statements in relation to matters for which there is a direct public interest. This is not to say such a duty of care should be used to dissuade people from coming forward and giving their views on historical events. It is, rather, to emphasise the need for quality over quantity.
Whatever the truth behind the Vieux Fort housing project, the fact is housing remains a serious problem within the country. This has been the case under several successive government administrations. For decades now, the State has struggled to do what Parliament has mandated it to do, namely to “do all things necessary and convenient for or in connection with the provision of affordable shelter and associated community facilities for low and middle-income persons.”
We are of the view that it is not productive for people to be wrangling over the past. Energies should be focused on the present and on bolstering the housing stock in the future. A never-ending blame game, especially one involving people who are no longer able to defend themselves, does little to relieve the plight of the man in the street who is unable to afford a home.
All are entitled to give us their account of what transpired in the past. However, as with so much else in our land, instead of working against one another, we should be working together to solve the problems we now face. And we should be doing so with mutual respect, compassion and understanding. Not malice or extreme punctiliousness.
The State should be doing more to address vandalism of the housing stock, fraud, illegal occupation, delays, poor craftsmanship, subletting and the disturbing new trend of criminals hounding occupants out of their State-provided homes.