Letters to the Editor

If NIDS be... bad roads and the environment

Thursday, November 16, 2017

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Dear Editor,

The furore has died down about the environmental petition that was sponsored by the Office of the Prime Minister with regard to how sections of the Cockpit Country should be used. The talk is now about the national identification system (NIDS).

For what it's worth, I believe that the environmental petition was ridiculous, at best. A Government is supposed to act in the best interest of the country over which it presides. Why is it necessary to sponsor a petition to canvass public opinion on matters of sustainable development? It seems to me like a delay tactic, or some other shambolic strategy aimed at giving the false impression that something is being done.

Dear Prime Minister, this Jamaican expects better from our highest executive body. A little more respect for our intelligence would be appreciated.

Recent persistent rain, while delightful for the farming community and water management entities, have been wreaking havoc on an already poorly maintained road network. Successive governments have neglected our roads, especially the interior network. I sometimes wonder what municipal councils are doing when the conditions of many of the roads in townships across Jamaica are considered. Spanish Town is a prime example of neglected main roads. This situation makes life doubly difficult for the commuting public in terms of time, discomfort, and wear and tear on vehicles.

Apart from the economic considerations, good roads have a positive psychological effect on their users. This, in turn, translates to improved economic outcomes. The Government should place a higher priority on road maintenance. People who carry out patching activities should be held to higher standards to prevent frequent repatching due to shoddy jobs.

I agree, in principle, with the arguments advanced by successive governments as to the virtues of having a robust, reliable, efficient, and secure national registration and identification regime. And in the current frenzy of responses to the apparent haste with which the Government of the day appears to be moving the NIDS Bill along, I sense other motives.

Some of the concerns expressed seem to be born out of conspiracy theories — the belief that the powers that be have some sinister intentions. Others seem to be fuelled by political sentiment, and the rest reak of religious fanaticism.

Whatever the motives for the various negative responses to the progress of the NIDS Bill, it is my belief that the Government should give due recognition to the concerns being expressed. This is not a situation that should be met with arrogance.

Apart from the imperative to fight corruption, I have not heard any clearly enunciated reasons coming from the Government as to why this Bill is being given the urgency that it appears to be getting. Certainly, crime and violence and the environment are areas of critical importance, but even these areas don't seem to be getting the level of priority that NIDS seems to be getting at the moment.

This situation calls for greater transparency on the part of the Government. Engage us in constructive dialogue. This could help to dispel some of the conspiracy theories swirling around.

M A Gooshang

gooshang01@gmail.com

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