To be poor is indeed a crime
The veteran Reggae artiste Mr Freddie McGregor really couldn't have said it any better than he did in his song, To Be Poor Is A Crime. For although we suspect he was really referring to paucity of the pocket, it is an undeniable fact that in this society, poverty in any form — the mind, the spirit, one's values and attitudes — carries a sanction that can only be classified as a consequence of the severest crime.
When we find communities like Tucker in St James, which according to yesterday's edition of our sister title, the Observer West, is relying on its member of parliament, Mr Clive Mullings, to restore the footbridge that once provided the sole means of access to the main road, one really has to wonder how and why things get to be this way.
Only those with limited vision could have sanctioned the building of so many homes on terrain that is so obviously unsuited for residential accommodation in terms of its infrastructure.
Surely, the dangers of living in a community with a single entry/exit must be painfully obvious to all? Yet there it is — houses upon houses perched precariously on a mountainside that appears to be on the verge of crumbling. No matter how we choose to view it, it all comes down to poverty — poverty of intellect, assuming the houses were sanctioned by the municipal authorities; poverty of the State's regulatory machinery, assuming they were constructed illegally.
It's been almost a week now since the passage of Tropical Storm Nicole which ravaged, in addition to the Tucker bridge, several other aspects of the country's infrastructure. Yet we are still being flooded with reports that many communities remain cut off from main roads with very little idea as to when normalcy will be restored.
Major routes upon which much of the running of the country's business depends remain devastated, even as the obvious need for viable alternatives becomes even more so. The worst thing about all of this is that we're not out of the woods yet as far as the inclement weather is concerned.
What, God forbid, will happen if another storm hits us? According to the Meteorological Service of Jamaica in Wednesday's edition, the forecast for the island is an increase in showers and thunderstorms through the weekend, due to a broad area of low pressure over the eastern Caribbean.
How will the existing and planned infrastructure — the Bailey bridge that is to be installed in John's Hall, for example — hold up under this? Surely the plan can't be to replicate the bridges, roads and what not, and then just sit around waiting for them to crumble under the next onslaught of bad weather?
It is said that one of the surest signs of madness is to persist in a course of action that is guaranteed to produce a certain result, in the hope that said consequences will miraculously change. Depending on the context in which you look at it, the same might be said for poverty.