Flood of flam


IT IS astounding just how often governments can get it wrong when it comes to responding to the problem of flooding.

It doesn’t seem to matter which party, PNM or UNC, is in power. Whenever floods happen, you can rely on the same things occurring.

Government officials “mobilise.” They put their “boots on” and then speak of going “on the ground” to study what, for ordinary citizens, is obvious. They organise walkabouts. They convene media conferences. They also identify the “culprits,” the people who are really to blame for the plight of those left to swim into and out of their homes.

Blame the land developers, we are told. Blame polluters. Blame people who have built homes too close to waterways. Blame those who have destroyed riverbanks or the nefarious saboteurs who have wrecked pumps.

Almost as certain as the annual occurrence of flooding is the fact that, for any given government, it is never the case that any department of the state bears any responsibility.

All the factors normally wheeled out to explain why flooding is occurring no doubt do contribute to the problem.

But it is equally the case that it is the State’s duty to regulate and mitigate each one of these factors, and to do so long before the rainy season.

Instead, we get governments that somehow believe that what the public wants when natural disasters occur are cynical exercises in public relations or spin designed to make it seem the agencies of state are truly efficient, truly effective, really working as they should.

But who has the luxury of sitting down to watch long, bloated media conferences when their television is floating away?

No MP in this country should be harassed or disrespected or in any way frustrated as they go about their official work.

Nor do we condone those intent on causing disruption or acting out of bad mind or political opportunism whenever this might benefit them.

At the same time, no population should have to tolerate public officials who are completely oblivious to just how tone-deaf they appear when they give precedence to flam over performance.

What citizens want is for flooding to stop.

Given the realities of climate change, economic constraints and pressures on our infrastructure in the long run, flooding is unlikely to disappear overnight or be solved with one simple fix – as laudable as the idea of a “drainage plan” may be.

If floods are a part of life in our landscape, at the very least what governments should aim to do is improve conditions as much as they can, building on all of their work. Not to preside haplessly while everything seems to fall apart and then point fingers at everybody else.


"Flood of flam"

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