The voices of the masses must be heard

Letters to the Editor

The voices of the masses must be heard

Monday, December 21, 2020

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Dear Editor,

How many of us have held our breath as we quickly drove through Ewarton because the near-unbearable stench?

How many of us have looked at the red lake outside of Mandeville and thought how disgusting?

How many of us even know that there is a community called Bito that was basically destroyed because of the effects of quarrying? The schools closed and children are bussed to other areas because it is cheaper than to reopen the schools.

We, the people, should have spoken up about so many atrocities against the environment as well as the health of our nation.

Instead of saying “thanks”, some of us are slamming the environmentalists and accusing them of “hindering progress” when all they are doing is what we the people should have been doing long ago.

But herein lies the problem. The system is not designed to be accessible enough to hear us, but we are the people, and we ought to be heard.

Many of us complain amongst ourselves but we might not live in those areas, so we don't go beyond talk.

Who among us even knows how to access Gordon House?

Local government doesn't really seem to even acknowledge some of these problems, because the focus is on more basic needs.

The even bigger issue is that most of us don't think protesting even makes a difference, because we see it over and over again where developers and the like get their way anyway, no matter how much of a ruckus is made. Or, worse, decisions are made by governmental agencies on our behalf, usually without consulting us, yet we have to live with the resulting negative impact.

When phone calls are made or letters of protest are written no one knows about them. Citizens are then said to have been silent. But, no, we, the masses, haven't been silent. We have always been here. Thanks to social media and wider publication options on the Internet we are beginning to get our voices out.

One mechanism for change is through a petition on the Office of the Prime Minister's website. How many people even know about this option? How many of us have the skills to create a petition that will get enough traction to get 15,000 signatures in 40 days? On top of that, it is up to the prime minister's office to determine if the petition gets posted in the first place. The current process disenfranchises whole segments of our population — people who do not have Internet access, smartphones, or e-mail addresses, those who aren't on social media, or those who may be barely literate.

So let us applaud and not knock the people from Kingston 8 who went to court to enforce zoning laws and development orders. Swift consequences must now follow for the ruling to have meaning and be seen as relevant to a wider Jamaica.

May this ruling represent hope that the cries of the voiceless will be heard going forward, regardless of their address.

I call for clear and improved access for grievance and redress under the law for all citizens.

One Voice

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