Editorial: The P.U. unit!

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We are not sure if it was a deliberate play on words or just an unfortunate naming acronym for the proposed maintenance unit within the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda but we certainly had a laugh when we heard the attorney general announce that a P.U. Unit is to be set up within the force.
The Police Premises Upkeep Unit’s acronym is obviously P.P.U.U. but who did not giggle like a school child and shorten it to “P.U. Unit” when they heard that the unit is to help to deal with the stench from the unsanitary conditions of the stations.  
For reference … ‘p.u.’ – An exclamation denoting the presence of a vile or unpleasant odour.  For example, “P.U.  That smells disgusting!”  Whether it is ‘official’ English is none of our concern right now.  It is part of our local vernacular and that is what makes this so amusing.   Ah yes!  The P.U. Unit … that is knee-slapping good stuff!  We can imagine the workers dressed in blue police jumpsuits adorned with P.P.U.U. on their backs and plungers and hammers holstered to their sides.  Thanks to the Commissioner of Police, Wendel Robinson, and whoever else came up with this naming convention for giving us all a reason to smile.
Amusement aside, we are perplexed that this is the solution to the maintenance problems plaguing the police.  We certainly can understand the frustration that would drive the high command to take matters into their own hands but this solution is an indictment of the overall government administration in the area of maintenance.  Remember, it is not only police stations that are poorly maintained.  
What is the message?  “We know that you are not going to do anything, so we are go to do it ourselves?”  Maybe it is deliberate.
 Maybe it is a way of embarrassing the government to take action.  If that is the plan then we wish them good luck because embarrassment does not seem to be a good motivator for government.  
In providing details of the commissioner’s plans, Minister Benjamin, said that the “unit will be set up to take care of all the police stations in this country” and would be “staffed with officers from within the force.” Really?  We wonder what the rank and file will have to say about that.  Somehow we think that more than a few will object to being placed on toilet duty.  
Don’t get us wrong; we are not trying to throw cold water on the commissioner’s plans because God helps those who help themselves.  If the government has refused to help maintain the stations, then the police have every right to act.
They cannot be expected to live and work in squalour.  Taking matters into their own hands is a natural progression. It is essentially self-preservation because we can only imagine the bacteria and potential for diseases in some of the conditions that we have seen.  
Truth be told, we think that the concept of a P.U. Unit is a good one but it should not be confined to maintenance of police stations only.  There are many government employees in buildings that evoke the refrain “P.U. That stinks!” on a regular basis. Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital immediately comes to mind.  A dedicated team with a clear focus on maintenance would be good move towards better maintenance of government offices and buildings.  
So while we may joke, the commissioner is on to something good here.  If the government can see the vision then it could be a good solution to a vexing problem for more than just the police.  Let’s establish a crack squad of professionals that can do basic maintenance work for the government – a specialised unit outside of Public Works that can respond in a timely manner to requests for maintenance.  
The unit could patrol the government offices on a regular basis to ensure that infrastructure is in proper order.  It would serve the needs of the departments directly, and by providing an efficient service, it would protect the occupants of the buildings from being attacked by menacing viruses, vermin, mold and other health hazards.
Hmmmm … The more we think about it, the more we like the P.U. Unit.  

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