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Indifference of our intelligentsia

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Fri Feb 20, 2015

Editor: The tremendous contribution of the banana industry to the welfare and development of the people of SVG should not be treated lightly. While it is true that the people had survived on agriculture for years/decades before, planting cotton, arrowroot, cassava, tannias, yams, potatoes, peas, corn, sugarcane and other crops, it was with the advent of bananas in the 1950s that the economic strength of the families involved began to see measurable growth. On reflection, it can be said that in the main, the money earned was well spent.{{more}} Property was bought, houses were modernized, children were educated and sent abroad, the family was able to afford medical services and vehicles.

Small businesses became a vibrant sector, spread across the rural districts. Seamstresses, tailors and other artisans found regular employment and there was regular transport service provided to almost every village in the state. A lot of this weekly income ended up in the coffers of the merchants and bankers, allowing them to enjoy top-tier lifestyles. The lawyers also did good business, some of them have been accused of not having done the work for which they had been retained.

It has been to our discredit as a society that when it became evident that our elected administrators were not operating in our best interests, most of us remained unmoved and silent. And so it was that our scarce resources were wasted on specious schemes, as their inflated ego and their parasitic counsellors/attorneys urged them on to reckless spending on unproductive projects, like the Union Island Marina, the Cross Country Road, the Kingstown Vegetable Market, the Owia Fishing Complex, the Ju-C Building Buy Out and the Ottley Hall Inquiry.

It is believed that these projects have negatively affected our capacity to address more effectively such vital areas as the proper maintenance of the hospitals, clinics, schools, roads and Little Tokyo.

Our intelligentsia, our scholars, those persons who have had the training and who seemed naturally to be regarded as having the capacity, should understand that they have a responsibility to the community, to point out, with a view to correcting, any elements which have the potential to work against our best interests. With so many issues that have impacted negatively

on us over an extended period, it is obvious that our scholars and intelligentsia have been crippled by indifference. That is very sad!

One of the areas where this indifference, this paucity of commitment to the advancement and welfare of the society is exposed most acutely is the handling of the banana industry! The industry has always had its challenges for the growers and the government. There were windstorms, droughts, diseases and low prices, but the resilience of the people involved has always seen an energetic resurgence of the industry over the years and the efforts were always appreciated as being worth the while. And so, that weekly income of the thousands of banana growers buttressed our economy. Yet, when it was evident that all was not going well for the industry, especially with the vital matter of pest and disease control, which they had in fact undertaken to provide, there was no concern expressed by any of those organizations whose members had benefited pretty handsomely from the industry over the years. One had expected more interest to be shown by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, but they too were indifferent. They seemed not to realize that the erosion that they saw taking place just beyond their shadow would one day reach their way and remove the sand which formed the mound on which they stood.

So, here we are today, feeling the vacuum that the collapse of the banana industry has left us. We must remind ourselves that the ULP had made it one of their big election promises, to revitalize the banana industry and inclusive in that revitalization plan, was the repairs of our vital feeder roads, the maintenance of which had been clearly neglected by the former regime.

To date those promises have not been fulfilled and yet our intelligentsia have remained silent and indifferent. One cannot help but ask, “Where are the members of the ODD and its associates?” They must be reminded that they had erred in not faithfully endeavouring to give the needed guidance and direction.

When a fallen tree blocks the village, the man with the sharp cutlass needs no inducement to cut away the branches to re-open the access. Our growth will continue to be retarded if our intelligentsia remains indifferent.

Leroy Providence

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