Darkness envelopes the land

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On any given night, road users are liable to traverse long stretches of roadway in Antigua in Stygian darkness. For example, the Sir George Walter Highway, from the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB) all the way down to Sprugoo’s Service Station is pitch black, with the exception of the Dee’s Service Station area, and a lone light, here-and-there. It is a disgrace. Here we have a modern, fancy highway, the gateway to our country, shrouded in Third World darkness. It is quite dangerous, a threat to life and limb.

The authorities are aware of the sad state of our road lighting infrastructure, but they appear not to have the will, or the inclination, or the financial wherewithal to fix this problem as a matter of urgency. Periodically, they make a great pretense at installing light poles, and so on and so forth, but except for a few concrete bases on the Friars Hill Road and the Sir George Walter Highway, the work remains incomplete. For years. Seems, they are only interested in pulling that ‘men-at-work’ bluff at election time, or in response to the plaintive cries of an outraged citizenry, but after the outrage subsides, or the election is over, they promptly return to their malaise and apathy – the status quo ante.

Interestingly, the United Kingdom government gifted our government seven hundred light poles to enhance the safety and the appearance of our roadways, but inexplicably, those light poles have not been fully installed. Most of them are languishing in a warehouse somewhere. We understand as well that the Chinese gifted us solar lights, and the sort, to assist with the lighting of our roadways. Unfortunately, many of those fixtures no longer seem to work, as a result of vandalism and theft. Apparently, we have a problem with maintenance and upkeep here in our fair State. Things always seem to fall apart.

Of course, the physical darkness on our roadways is a metaphor for the black hole, the cloak of secrecy that envelopes the conduct of our financial and political affairs. The noble goal of transparency is anathema to this administration, never mind their pious protestations to the contrary. Every blessed thing is a State secret, never mind that in a thriving democracy, unless in cases of national security, transparency and accountability should be the order of the day. The citizenry ought to be consulted and kept informed on the goings-on in high places. The government ought always to seek the consent of the governed.

Unfortunately, here in Antigua and Barbuda, this government plays hide-and-seek, and obfuscates and prevaricates on almost everything. For example, we never heard a word of the plans that this administration had for the Dunbars Agricultural Station in this year’s budget, until bulldozers were uprooting the crops there, much to the chagrin and horror of most Antiguans and Barbudans. It was a rather distressing cut to those of us who care about the storied history of the area, and its significant role in the development of our agricultural industry, what with its wide variety of soil types, and so on and so forth. No consultation. Nada. Most of us were blind-sided.

Similarly, we were left slack-jawed when we saw photos and news reports of He of a High Place opening an embassy in China. Something as significant as that was kept a closely guarded secret. Sigh! To be sure, this penchant for secrecy is par for the course with this administration. For example, the National Asset Management Company (NAMCO), aka ‘Nyamco’ is a black hole of which we know nothing. The Citizenship by Investment (CBI) funds exist in a cosmic back hole as well. The setting-up of businesses, and the insider deals with cronies and those connected to the government, are all ensconced in mystery.

In an appearance on yesterday morning’s Observer AM, our former Ambassador to Cuba, His Excellency Bruce Goodwin, in a condemnation of the subterfuge employed by our government in the establishment of an embassy in China, declared that it is of a piece with the “whimsical and arbitrary manner” in which He of a High Place conducts the affairs of State.  In fact, in a tone dripping with disdain, Ambassador Goodwin said that it appeared as though He of a High Place had been walking through a Chinese city, and on an impulse, decided to set up an embassy there. No consultation. No prior proper planning. It was another cloak-and-dagger initiative by His Lordship.

Of course, he is a one-man-show, the monarch of all he surveys. Seems, much as The Mighty Sparrow once sang of Trinidad’s late Prime Minister, Dr Eric Williams, in that old classic GET TO HELL OUT, the same applies to He of a High Place. Sang Sparrow, “I am going to do what I feel to do / And I don’t care who get vex or who feel blue / . . . I control all de money / That pass through this country / . . . Who give you de privilege to objeck / Shut-up yuh mouth, pay yuh taxes, and have respeck . . .” Help us, Lawd!

And speaking of controlling all the money that passes through this country. We find it laughable that at times the authorities claim not to know anything about monies, and at other times they claim not to bear any responsibility, and at still other times they give convoluted explanations for ‘’Whey de money gaarn’. We certainly join with the Barbuda people in asking for an inquiry into the Hurricane Irma Recovery funds – monies that were donated – (Eg: US$550M from Spain, and US$1M from Mr Steve Morgan) that seem to have disappeared down an inky hole. And not forgetting to mention our Global Bank nightmare, where Mr Jack Stroll, a depositor, is yet to be made whole.

TheWASHINGTON POSTunveiled a new motto for its masthead in 2017:“Democracy dies in darkness.”We subscribe to that maxim. We are also pointing to the motto on our masthead, “Let there be light!”

      We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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