Commonsense please! Freddie on Monday
Kaieteur News

June 7, 2004

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When a country lacks a sound human resource base, then you expect to find a shortage of skills that are important to the maintenance of a functioning scientific, technological and social infrastructure. This is what distinguishes this country from all the others countries in CARICOM. All Guyanese must have talked about this at sometime in their lives when they would have lamented the lack of development in their country of birth.

But no matter how under-developed a small economy is, and whatever shortage of skills there is, it can still manage if the citizens are thinking, attempting to have vision and allowing their common sense to dictate to them.

I honestly believe so many irritating, maddening and stupid inconsequentialities that get some of our fellow citizens depressed could easily be avoided if we replace the shortage of skills we have with functioning commonsense

Let us leave out of this discussion, the Georgetown City Council. So much has been said about the primitive nature of the municipal government of the city by so many that only a miracle can save the citizens of Georgetown from this hell-hole on Regent Street.

But while we are on the topic of this monumental embarrassment called the City Council, let’s briefly return to an old observation.

Why does the City Council pick up the steel containers from the Bourda Market that houses the market’s garbage on North Road during the morning rush hour? Secondly, where are the supervisors of the garbage men who work on the trucks? These guys come into your yard, roll your bin out, pick it, throw the contents into the truck, rubbish spills out, and they leave it there.

The plastic bags then fly all over the streets. Every single one of those truck cleaners should be fired immediately. They are actually being paid to litter the streets.

Then there is the Guyana Revenue Authority. At the end of the month of April, you have to submit your tax returns and deposit them at the GRA. Now you would think that the GRA would allow for such submissions wherever there is a GRA office. But no! Commonsense at the GRA goes hibernating whenever the end of April comes around.

Knowing and fearing that I won’t get parking facilities around the Post Office where you have to take your tax returns, I call the GRA’s, Lamaha Street offices to find out if you can drop them off there. I was politely told that there is only one outlet for sending tax returns and it is in a box at the GRA’s branch at the Post Office

I had to park near to National Hardware store on Water Street to get to the GPO building. Can someone from the GRA tell this nation why a similar box could not have been placed at its head office on Lamaha Street and one at the Licence Revenue Office on Smyth Street? Why do the people of Demerara have to go only to the GPO building where parking is impossible to secure to submit your Tax Return?

I ask in all sincerity, does this make any sense at all? Next we go to GT&T. Do you know that every year GT&T fails to get its telephone directory right? Now it is going to snow in Guyana the year GT&T produces a correct directory for one of the world’s smallest populations, and in a country where, on a per capita basis, Guyana has one of the tiniest telephone population (land lines I am referring to).

I picked up the phone last week to call my friend, Dr. Ramsackal, at the New Amsterdam Hospital. There was no listing for it. The second largest hospital in Guyana cannot be found in the country’s telephone directory.

Of course, this is not a big problem at all when you compare this year’s names to last year’s print. Last year, the University of Guyana was completely blanked out from the pages of GT&T’s directory. But something is not right here. Of course, since nothing is ever right here, that shouldn’t surprise you.

But let’s take a closer look at this tale of invisible telephone listings. GT&T does not print the directory itself. It pays a private company to do so. Now anywhere in the business world (except Guyana), once a company fails in a job, it will never get another contract.

Can you imagine Air France or British Airways giving a specific publishing company to print their brochures and for two consecutive years, the brochures leave out the fact that the airline flies to the United States. That is the end of the contract for that particular printing company. But the opposite operates in Guyana.

I have every intention to ask Ms. Sonita Jagan, the chief executive of GT&T, why does GT&T stick with a publisher who can never get it right?

Something is strange here, even more than strange. How many people in Guyana have land lines? Judging from the basis of poverty in Guyana and the slow pace at which land lines are distributed by GT&T, why can’t the directory publisher ever get it right?

Is it rocket science to compile a computer listing of all telephone owners (land line)? If you work it alphabetically, there is no way UG could have been left out. When I get Ms. Jagan’s response, I will let you know. But it is interesting to note that Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) cannot computerise their system for billing customers.

So how many people in this county own property that would make it impossible for GWI to compile a list of names? I honestly do not think it is a lack of skills. It is an absence of commonsense that causes these things.

Take the police last week. Travel any morning on Camp Road going north. As soon as you reach the junction of Lamaha and Camp Streets, the chaos begins. Now the police created pandemonium when at one of the busiest intersections of this county in the morning rush hour – Barrack Street and Camp Road at Eve Leary - a police sign painter was a painting a stop sign on Barrack Street where it meets Camp Road.

For God Sake, where was commonsense? Why not in the post lunch period? Why not in the late afternoon? Why not in the evening? But right in the middle of a heavy flow of traffic.

Finally, I hardly get to see television but I have been told that NCN (formerly GTV) doesn’t ever broadcast the 6 O’ Clock News at 6 PM. So why name it the 6 O’Clock News? Because commonsense has left Guyana.