Fighting the fog and the foolishness
TODAY'S HEADLINE is meant to be a ubiquitous catch-all to cover the many things swirling like a storm around our heads. All of us are in the 'haul-and-pull-up', like it or not. From the contents of the newspapers, to the mix-up and 'blenda' online and/or dealing with the going-in and coming-out via radio and TV, it is amazing that our sanity survives.
An elder once told me about a man in his era who used to write many letters to the editor of a local newspaper. Any and everything which annoyed him, he compared it to the Bog Walk Gorge, "filled with fog and foolishness". This imagery reminds me of the confusion which is growing currently in the Pinnacle debacle. This could become either another round of obscured vision or end up blowing away when a bigger, more powerful fog of controversy springs up to nudge it out of the headlines.
Like the Bog Walk Gorge in flood season, wise persons observe the warning signs to approach with caution before it goes straight to becoming a flash flood, bringing total destruction before you can even sey 'feh!' Are we looking for a Rasta uprising? Is somebody spoiling for a fight? To what end? Rastafari has its rights, like everybody, to protect the welfare of its own vine and fig tree, but we and they should work to avoid bloodletting.
I was intrigued by writer/scholar Louis Moyston's view in his column in Tuesday's edition of this paper. It seeks to put the Howell/Pinnacle history into perspective, which is totally unknown to most of us. At the moment, we are not aware if what is being discussed is the definitive pedigree of Pinnacle. Moyston refers to a chain of historical events little known even by persons now 'buying out' the argument. There is room for more research and more reasoned discussion. This is no time for any action which could bring "bun fire". Rasta and bald head alike all stand to gain nothing by confrontational tactics. We've had too much of that in the past. We trust nobody.
To my thinking, before the Pinnacle controversy reaches explosion point, Government should assign a totally independent team of persons, with no vested interest, to do the research towards finding answers to the contentious questions. The outcome may not please everybody, but it might help to solve the problems without bloodshed and character assassination.
I cannot recall for how long I have been travelling through the area called Papine, on the edge of the east St Andrew foothills. Over time, I've experienced the growth of Papine Square from a relatively quiet, part-rural-part-urban area to a bustling centre of commercial activity, choked with traffic. A large percentage of road space is crammed with taxis and minibuses ferrying passengers and goods to surrounding communities, moving fast to make as many trips as will satisfy their investment in public transportation.
With the growth and expansion of the educational institutions in the area — UWI, the hospital and UTech — and with the Papine market and other places of business in the midst of it, Papine Square has outgrown itself. The present Member of Parliament Andre Hylton has dreams of Papine being designated a college town, facilitating more development. Great idea, except that Papine has become a traffic nightmare, instead of a happy highway to prosperity. It took forever to get traffic lights installed at the main intersection through which passes an unending flood of vehicles rushing in every direction, each wishing to get where they're going as soon as possible, if not before, as Granny would 'sey'.
One of the concerns has been the large numbers of pedestrians, mainly schoolchildren, who come pouring into the already cramped area when classes end in the evening or begin earlier in the day. It doesn't help that Papine High, the largest school, operates on the shift system. To cut down on the danger of students walking in the traffic, someone got the bright idea of a sidewalk-rebuilding programme. Nobody reckoned, however, that with the increasing motor traffic, especially the taxis, all would be jostling for the same road space. Since there is nothing like a transport centre, and no space to accommodate them, the resultant takeover of the sidewalks as parking spots is defeating the original intention.
The entrances to many business places have now become inaccessible as the taxis and private vehicles climb over the concrete "edging" to get a 'kotch', forcing pedestrians back into the road. There's even more drama in the square in front of the traffic lights. When a driver on the left side of the cramped road space wants to get across to make a right turn on the other side and the traffic light is against him, the solution, Jamma style, is: Cut cross everybody "on the bias" and let gravity take care of it. "If yuh lick mi vehicle yuh see...Ah oh."
What will become of Hylton's Papine dream is anybody's guess. We have not heard what, if anything, is being planned to deal with the problems. The latest project is to slice off a portion of the westerly tip of the Papine park to facilitate filtering into Chandos Place, the largest established area for shopping. How it will work remains to be seen. Users of Papine Square have their own rules when it comes to manoeuvring in traffic.
If there is a lesson to be learned from the Papine story it is that time is long past for Government and private businesses alike to begin seriously planning for expansion in even the smallest rural/urban places. 'Wi really cyaan gwaan so!' We're talking about growth and more growth, but where will it be accommodated? Isn't it time to move away from fog and foolishness?
Crime, crime, crime
What can we do to change the situation? Time to meet Devon Clunis, chief of police in Winnipeg, Canada, who was born in Harmony Vale, St Ann, Jamaica. Having migrated to Canada's frozen weather as a youth, he took an early decision to do the best to get ahead. There followed his commitment to excellence, leading him to join the police service. He rose steadily through the ranks, becoming chaplin and so on to chief of police, the first man of colour to gain that distinction in all Canada. Today, he is noted for encouraging community involvement in maintaining law and order and curtailing crime.
Now visiting his homeland for a much-needed vacation, he shared his philosophy in a talk given at UWI, Mona, on Tuesday under the auspices of his hosts, the Canadian High Commission. It would be a big mistake to interpret his message as playing it soft on criminals. I wouldn't imagine that he's saying we can lessen crime by just being nice to wrongdoers, but he supports the philosophy of stopping crime before criminals develop. Smart idea, since it has brought results. Could we try it?