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Clouden, Daniel made Local Government better by far

Clouden, Daniel made Local Government better by far

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EDITOR: These two gentlemen functioned perhaps in the days of King George as Forest Rangers in Union Island. Together they managed the forests and watershed areas. Illiteracy among both or one of them did not inhibit them from accomplishing their tasks. They guarded the forest jealously and a tree could not be cut down without permission. The local public water sources of the ponds and wells were well maintained. Washing and bathing were prohibited around them.

In those days we had local government. The District Officer, who lived in the Big House in Clifton, managed the affairs of the island together with the District Council. Apparently, it was recognized that management from overseas was difficult if not impossible.

Moving from colonial governance should not have meant that the management system would have become bitter by far.

It is ironic that the modern-day political systems have dismantled the traditional local government structure and promised us 20 years ago to give us local government. They remind us of a bellyful dog preventing hungry dogs from getting something to eat. This seems to suggest that neglect is not by chance, but by choice.

If we had local government, the Teachers House at Badeau would have been repaired, the police living quarters opposite the morgue and in Papaland would not be left to deteriorate, the Ashton Government School building would have been adequately maintained, the guttering spilling water unto the Union Island School auditorium would be fixed, together with the stand-by generator there.

The consequence of what is being done to us is grave. Stray animals roam the island at will; some even attend the primary and secondary schools daily. When the local people organized to bring the island under control, action of the authorities restored the communities back to chaos.

The food bill is the largest bill and when ordinary people are prevented from growing crops to feed themselves due to animals on the loose, it gives the impression that POVERTY is an official policy.

There is no doubt that the island has regressed since colonial days. Small showers cause top soil to be washed into the streets and eventually into the sea with dire consequences for our coral reef and sea moss farmers.

When Union Island was surveyed around 1910, residents were given the opportunity to purchase lands by small parcels in the towns and villages and large parcels in the country side. This meant that the people had means of survival, living from the land. The lands were to be handed down from one generation to the next. However, in recent times, Heirs of Law living overseas have been selling out the lands and have caused, to some extent, a level of hardship among local family members. Union Island is unique in that almost all the lands are privately owned.

Selling the lands is like killing the goose that laid the golden egg. This resulted in less care given to the lands, and the demise of many fruit trees that graced the forests. This was not the intention of our fore parents and those of us with any remaining inheritance need to be mindful of the legacy left by Nathan Daniel and Ronnie Clouden: A legacy of sustainable development and land conservation and healthful living off the land.

Anthony Stewart, PhD

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