EDITORIAL: What is the plan again?

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Following the passage of Irma and the evacuation of the people from Barbuda, there has been a near endless stream of news surrounding the Barbuda situation. Everything from land issues, to airport construction, to the pace of rebuilding. But in all of this, there is one very important thing that is missing – a plan.  
When we talk of a “plan” we do not mean some kind of homogeneous mixture of plans that have the common link of Barbuda, but rather a master plan, with a timeline, for returning things to near normal on the sister isle.
At the current time, there seems to be more confusion than plan. For example, the Barbudans say that they cannot return because there is no water and electricity infrastructure. The government counters that there is electricity and water available, however they cannot reconnect damaged homes unless the homeowners are there.  At that point, everything stalls.  
This all breaks down to be a battle of perspectives and with no arbitrator there is no real action. With a well developed plan there will be much less confusion and the recovery effort will be accomplished much smoother. The arbitrator becomes the updates to the plan.
A great example of this is education. The  Director of Education, Clare Browne, came forth recently and stated that schools on Barbuda are still closed and all Barbudan teachers who were assigned to schools in Antigua should remain in Antigua. This is an obvious pre-condition for anyone with a child in school, before they plan a return, they would need to know when the schools will reopen.  
Now, here is catch-22, as explained by Mr. Browne.  He said, “In order for schools to reopen on Barbuda, the teachers would have to be back in Barbuda. In order for the teachers to be back on Barbuda there must be adequate accommodation for them.” He continued: “In order for schools to reopen in Barbuda, there must be students there, and in order for this to happen the community has to be back up and there is suitable accommodation for students and parents.”  Does anyone else get that dizzy, merry-go-round, chicken or the egg, feeling?
In assessing the education situation, Mr. Browne has pretty much assessed the entire Barbuda situation. What comes first as it relates to Barbudans’ return to Barbuda?  In our talks to many Barbudans and government officials, it does not appear that the logical steps have been identified, agreed and communicated.  We need a plan.
Yes, we said, “we” because we are all in this together. The relocation after Irma and the ongoing hosting of Barbudans come with a very heavy price tag and with our limited resources as a nation, that is unsustainable. So there must be a comprehensive plan to get Barbuda back to some level of normalcy and for Barbudans to return.  
There are many that claim that we are being naive and that everything is going exactly to plan. But we do not buy that. We cannot believe that Central Government would want to continue to pick up the tab for the displaced Barbudans just to “have their way” in Barbuda. For those who believe otherwise, however, the amendments to the Barbuda Land Act and the clearing of land for the building of the new airport are prime examples of the need to keep Barbudans away from the island. “If they were there”, they say, “Barbudans will not allow what is going on to go on!”
We are not going to debate political motive at this point because the overarching and more important issue is getting Barbuda back to some semblance of normalcy, so that Barbudans can return.
There is a famous adage often attributed to Benjamin Franklin that states: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  We refer to it quite frequently, to the point where it is becoming a bit of a cliche, however, the wisdom in those seven simple words should be evident to everyone.
And before Barbudans think that they can wag an entitled finger towards the government and foist all the problems in Barbuda and the lack of a plan totally on its shoulders, we would like to say that Barbudans should be the key drivers and architects of the rebuilding plan. Government should play the support role in all of this.  Right now, things seem to be turned on its head, with government taking the lead role while Barbudans look on.
In a situation like this, it’s not too late to start planning, because the last thing anyone wants is to wake up one day and find out that the plan to fail worked.
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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