To the media houses and personalities,
Apart from producing rolling eyes and hilarity, Dr Rowley’s frenzied attempt to whip up favourable sentiment by backdoor methods evidences another insidious national pastime, one that’s not funny at all—the inadequacy/absence/blockage of fire/emergency exits in nearly every building in Trinidad and Tobago. Societal attitude towards disaster-preparedness is cause for major alarm. Here, John and Jane Doe habitually rely on the false sense of security—that “God is ah Trini!”—thus turn a blind eye to commonsense and the best outreach efforts of purpose-built, safeguards such as the Fire Services, the ODPM, the EMA and the OSHA rules and regulations.
Over the years, several outstanding and knowledgeable citizens have repeatedly called for a no-nonsense approach towards persons who refuse to comply or who are negligent in complying with proper building codes. Some—like Professors Julian Kenny and John Spence—have gone to The Maker thoroughly dissatisfied with the response to their pleas and cautions. I hope they’re making intercession from on high that we be spared sufficient time to amend our lackadaisical ways, for, as has been seen in Europe, when the once-in-a-millennium deluge begins, only intelligent and efficient anticipation could minimize the tragic consequences.
I urge the government to redouble its efforts at ensuring our built infrastructure is brought up to best-practice standard. A lot of energy and time have been devoted to educating the general public on what to do to mitigate “natural” disasters. Dr Ramroop’s recent admission that, as a nation, Trinidad and Tobago is just 60% ready to cope with a catastrophe is to be commended—its honesty is a conchshell blast signalling that ODPM cannot do it alone…all citizens must rise up off their haunches and become meaningfully involved in their own welfare. While everyone needs to be involved, the nagging question is, in the event of anything, would the PNM provide timely support, seeing it took their stopgap leader three years to realize his office has a fire/emergency exit?
Lance Edison Tardieu, B.Sc, M.Sc, MBA…Point Cumana, Trinidad.