Monday, January 14, 2013

Inability to complete anything - the Peter O'Connor commentary

When things go wrong, we tend to rush in to try to correct the problem, and we often do so without any planning for the consequences of the presumed “corrective action”. And many, if not most, sudden impulses towards corrective action bring new, and longer-term issues to the original problem.

The festering situation of Grande Riviere beach is one such issue. 

A sudden “rush of blood” to belatedly try to rectify the original problem—beach erosion by the meandering river—brought great calumny down upon the authorities, and that fallout now prevents any authority from completing a job started, but left incomplete since last September. 

Nothing will postpone the turtle-nesting season on Grand Riviere Beach. The giant leatherback turtles will begin arriving in a few weeks, to lay their eggs in the sand. 
They will arrive whether the beach is “ready or not”, and will deposit many of their eggs in damp or wet sand—and these eggs will not hatch—left behind by the still incomplete work on the beach.

Trinidad and Tobago “sells” the nature experience at Grande Riviere, as an important attraction to naturalists around the world. We were doing this at the big Travel Industry fair held last November in London. People, including Tour Operators, who asked about the beach at Grande Riviere, were told that it was being fixed, so please bring your people and come to Grande Riviere!

There is only one thing wrong with this promise held out to potential visitors: The work has not been completed. There is a large festering “pond” in the middle of Grande Riviere beach, right where the access road meets the beach, and right in front of one of the hotels on the beach! To me, and probably to most of you, the obvious thing to do to remove this stinking eyesore, which will probably affect some of the eggs laid nearby, would be to drain it and then fill it with clean sand.

But when will this—or some other mitigating activity—take place? And who will be responsible for implementing it? Recent reports have indicated that the “Pontius Pilate Principle” is at work here, preventing anyone from doing anything. The Pontius Pilate Principle dictates that the EMA, having taken some flack for using excavators to straighten the river in September will never, ever, order a piece of equipment on to any beach---ever again! “Allyou blame me? Well, allyou could wait, I not going to order a backhoe to go and fill that fetid hole on Grande Riviere beach!”

We thus embrace the ultimate in childish immaturity and petulance by spiting ourselves, the situation, and indeed our country when we totally abandon common sense and the effort—to say nothing of responsibility -- required to complete, to the public’s satisfaction, the restoration of the beach. 

And many of us will actually sympathize with the whiners and moaners who are giving us “good reason” why they will not (they will say “cannot”) finish the job, restore the beach and make Grande Riviere welcoming to the turtles, to us citizens and to the hundreds of visitors expected from overseas. We will actually say “what you expect those EMA people to do? We bouffe them when they sent in the excavator, and therefore they are right to do nothing from now on”.

Of course, as a nation of moaners and whiners, we are always too ready to make and accept any stupid or trivial excuse for our failings, for our inability to try again, and this millstone of excuse and sympathy is dragging us down beyond even our understanding. But we like it so, we are eternally comfortable in our failings and in our excuses.

So, are we going to stay comfortable in this current shame? And it is shame we should be feeling, when we look at that stagnant, fetid hole in the middle of Grande Riviere beach.

Promises were made to Grande Riviere. They were promised, by the Minister of Tourism, and by the Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, that the river would have been straightened, and that the beach would have been restored before the turtles began arriving.
Well, the river was straightened, but the beach is still a stinking eyesore, which will turn away every T&T citizen who seeks a “turtle experience” this year. And it will bring such a torrent of negative publicity from the overseas visitors, from which the village—as a site for Eco-tourism—will probably never recover. 

And what a shame this would be—if a little rural village, by its own concerns and working with almost no help, put itself on the world map for nature lovers, might actually be wiped off the tourism map because our government and its agencies could not restore a damaged beach.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai