Letters & Opinion

The Big S&S Question: What makes one Essential Service more essential than others?

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By Carlton Ishmael

Well, nothing is worse than when those at the top don’t understand the struggles of those at the bottom, with Government Ministers and top Civil Servants and Directors and the other Hot Shots who take decisions under both parties only sitting in their ivory towers and dictating how and why this law or that penalty should be imposed, or enacted.

Granted not all decisions will be popular or fully appreciated, but before some crucial decisions are made, there should always be some consultation, or some kind of assessment of the impact of the results of their decisions.

Take the curfew time that is of national necessity, but does not make logical sense when it comes to the survival of fishers. The system has decided that the population should not be up and about between certain times and their dictates, if violated, will result in arrests and fines or confinements, but although they offer certain segments, like the hotels, the opportunity at the said time to operate, consider that there is no legitimate reason to offer fishermen the same privileges to sustain their livelihood.

Another area of suppression is the manner how they decided what is an essential service, where one can access food, get gas for his vehicle, get banking or other financial services, but businesses that are used by the small shops to make ends meet are seen as dangerous to keep open. So, for example, S&S and other related businesses become a No No and the only one who suffers due to the closure is the low class.

The reason, they claimed, was about protecting us from ourselves. But the manner and the over-handed law enforcement, as well as multiplying the armed forces with hundreds to prove their point, or justify their action, is baffling, to say the least.

The city is where all the laws are enforced and it is only city dwellers or visitors to the city that seem to transgress the law because they are the ones that examples are made of, while there is a different law for the affluent or for tourists.

The state continues to make money by any means, now they are into burning cannabis plantations, buying or selling rum is now prohibited, traffic violations are constantly monitored and the public are supposed to obey and conform, yet the help necessary for survivability is not forthcoming from the Government.

The election is at hand and the media is buzzing, new plans are unveiled, all the progress reports are out, all contracts are in full force, what could not be given or was not available over the last four years is now readily available, the hype is about reinstatement, continuity and offering a bright tomorrow, but sadly all seem to be more of the same, no detours or difference in directions, nobody is talking about failed enterprise, such as the horse race course fiasco — nobody is talking about that; and nobody is talking about the amount of time it is taking to finish a hospital started twelve years ago in the South.

Nobody is talking about the suppression of the ganga industry, or the way our national debt is growing, I am yet to hear about our true reality, I have not heard about how rural folks will survive this pandemic era, I am not hearing about constituency growth, nobody is complaining about the high cost of products at the supermarket, so all we get are laws and arrests and fines to back-up the cash flow for government to pay bills and keep the country running.

The biggest problem is, however, that all those whose jobs are safe with the regime say nothing, those on the receiving end wait and murmur not — and the affluent classes continue living like nothing is wrong; and those from outside with the money are waiting to cut the next deal, considering we have an amicable government and a welcoming regime, waiting for the next deal that does not involve us paying back, or justifying the loan by saying we will definitely be able to pay it back, with no proof.

It took frustrated S&S customers complaining in the press every day and every night, even camping outside the stores, before those in the air condition offices behind the stained-glass doors came to realize the government was losing support because while poor people could not spend their little money at S&S, Massy Stores and KFC and others remained open.

All of that leaves me to wonder now: What makes a service essential and what makes one essential service more essential than others?

I am sure I’m not the only one asking those questions, but as I always say and sing, according to Jimmy Cliff, as always: ‘There are More Questions Than Answers…’

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