Sun | Jan 21, 2018

JaRistotle’s Jottings | Make a painful noise

Published:Thursday | January 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM

The debacle of the protracted traffic jam along the Palisadoes strip on New Year's Day was a product of a disregard of responsibility on the part of those who issued the permits giving clearance for the Sandz event to take place, the event organisers and those government agencies charged with overseeing public order and safety at mass events, namely the police. This was especially important given the location of the event, smack along the sole thoroughfare to the nearby international airport.

In the aftermath of the debacle, the blame-shifting game that emerged was most distasteful. For instance, when Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams declared that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) followed all the required steps before granting the permit, and then blamed a lack of enforcement on the ground on the day of the event, he was being very jack-assish.

 

Taking ownership

 

How can the KSAMC issue a permit for such an event and not have on-the-spot monitoring to ensure that all the necessary public order and safety requirements were being met. What about the concurrent joined-up functions of the police and the fire brigade under such circumstances? Did they stipulate any requirements for contingency plans in the event of out-of-the-norm developments? I ask these questions against the background of similar, though less pronounced traffic management challenges at a similar event at the same location round about the same time the previous year.

Mayor Williams' poppycock position parallels that of a driving examiner granting a licence to someone without examining them to ensure competence. Is that the way in which he and his fellow councillors intend to achieve their mission of 'enhancing the quality of life of citizens and cultivating a culture of effectiveness' within the KSAMC? Truth be told, I think their focus is more on the target of 'attracting and increasing the flow of cash': to hell with the other targets.

Public entities and public officials must take ownership for their blunders in the same way they do when things go right. The blame-dodging game is counterproductive and certainly does not contribute to prevention of future shortcomings.

 

Pushback

 

If I had been one of the persons who was sorely inconvenienced, missing my flight or having to undergo similar discombobulation, I would be suing the KSAMC, the event organisers and the police. I would be sending them a message that it is full time that we, the law-abiding and taxpaying citizens of this country, will no longer sit and be taken for granted. I, therefore, say to all you people who were so inconvenienced, sue dem backside. All ah dem.

Jamaicans have a lot carrying on their shoulders, from economic and social burdens to the spectre of crime. However, the voice of silence is getting us nowhere. When victims remain muted, it gives the culpable parties room to duck under the threshold of responsible behaviour and avoid taking ownership of their foul-ups. It's time for a change.

If we are to reflect on developments in the USA over the last year, we could learn from the pushback campaigns such as 'Black Lives Matter' and '#MeToo'.

Both campaigns have gained significant international attention, and have resulted in victims' rights being addressed and culpable parties being held to account. Our situation here in Jamaica calls for such a campaign. Speaking out, exercising our civil rights, seeking justice through the courts individually, and collectively as in class actions.

Remember Haile Selassie's point on this matter: "It has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph." The victimised, marginalised and disenfranchised all have vocal and legal options: use them.

Let not your issues disappear with the Sandz of time.