Recent incidents in our fair country, T&T, indicate that indeed “the people are hurting” (just to borrow a term), according to our present head of state, Paula-Mae Weekes. There is a level of frustration and stress within the population, and it is growing.
The deaths of 11 persons in one day, four of whom were killed by police, protests by residents, trade unions and company workers, and the cries of many for help for their loved ones, sick relatives who cannot get medical attention, missing persons and the growing number of homeless people, are clear indications that instead of moving forward, the country is “drowning”.
Many of these maladies can and should be remedied by the leaders who were put there to do this but, it seems in retrospect, instead the authorities are exacerbating the problems.
Within the past few months the price increases in food, gas and diesel, transport, building materials and other taxes have added to the frustration of the ordinary citizen, more so those in the middle- and lower-income brackets.
This added to the stress of beating deadlines to meet legal and other challenges posed by the Government, such as for vehicle stickers, changing over to machine-readable passports, polymer birth, marriage and death certificates, and the changeover from cotton $100 bills to polymer $100 bills.
Some of these measures have certainly increased the cash available to the Government for use in improving lives, but is the new-found cash being used for the people as promised?
It seems now as though the car sticker fiasco was just another ploy to raise funds, in the form of another tax. No one now speaks of the stickers and all cars, with or without stickers, are back on the road, unhindered.
Now, with the increase in fines for traffic offences, some fines for minor offences increased by over 1,000 per cent, and impending new legislation on the horizon to bar people from driving with the use of a demerit system, there seems to be more frustration and stress to come.
Despite all of the above, there seems to be a very big gap between the authorities running the country and the citizenry.
Several trade unions representing the workforce of the country are claiming disrespect and neglect. The TTUTA, PSA, PTSC workers, MTS and sanitation workers of the city corporations are all disgruntled by the Government’s total disrespect. Every week we see residents blocking roadways as a means of protest, for neglect of roads and basic infrastructure. These signs are indicators which clearly show the population is disgruntled. People are being neglected. The reality is indeed “the people are hurting”.