Nationally, crime is an imposing cloud under which real governance becomes political power points. As the dark cloud of crime grows overhead the political actors each hold umbrellas over their own heads to deflect blame. Meanwhile it is the Bahamian people left out to be drenched without real protection from the rain of robberies and street violence.
On Abaco, one of our biggest crime concerns is boat theft. While many press releases and promises have been made about this crime that sinks the very tourism economy that keeps us afloat – it seems barely a week goes by without a pair of Yamahas going missing or a tender goes for an unscheduled night ride.
What can be done about boat theft in The Bahamas and crime in general? Of course owners of the vessels and resorts must be smart and use the many tools available now to deter theft including cameras, chains, tracking devices, etc. But that is only one of what I see as three parts to the equation.
Part two is giving the judicial and penal system, which currently acts like a revolving door, more teeth in sentencing and the scope to recognize boat theft as the blight on our livelihoods that it is.
Part three, which I think would be the simplest and provide the quickest results, is equipping the Police and Defence force with the necessary tools to actually do their job. It is unacceptable that the police do not consistently have at least one working boat for a 120 mile island with surrounding, densely populated Cays. It is shameful that the police cannot afford to purchase gas for their patrol cars. It is unbelievable that in 2016 authorities must rely on equipment and procedures that would seem old even in the 80’s.
To our government: open the purse strings to support the police force. If you’re looking for the money to do so, start with not using my tax dollars to feed your thirty person entourage at the highest end restaurants in town. I’m glad Government Ministers want to indulge in $40 sandwiches and stone crab appetizers for themselves and half of Nassau when they visit Abaco, but don’t turn around and say the country does not have the money to maintain the generator at the airport or at Water and Sewerage.
Just because the country voted like a Third World Country in the Referendum, does not mean we have to be one. If you’ve tried to sleep, shower or sign-in to Facebook any time last week chances are it was difficult. Water, phone and electrical outages have become more common recently and lasting for longer. With the hot summer months on us, and the government’s track record of responding to problems in a timely and effective fashion, it is doubtful relief will be had anytime soon.
There are some good reasons, I’m sure, as to why there have been so many outages lately: poles knocked down, coolant system broken, lightning strikes on poles from which the copper grounding has been stolen. But here is the problem: BEC goes decades and the only thing we can consistently expect from them is summer outages, they are not allowed to excuse themselves at this point. And it’s a shame, because BEC employs many hard workers, especially here in Abaco.
There would be more goodwill towards BEC if they were even a little more transparent. How hard would it be to maintain a social media page or website that simply listed the current problem? Instead we are left in the dark guessing when we can finish cooking dinner and who at BEC forgot to put oil in the generator. This is an easy fix that will go a long way building public trust and understanding.
It is not just BEC that treats the public like an adversary. Recall a time you went to pay for a business license, apply for a form or hand in information you were told needed submitting only to be turned away because you needed everything in triplicate – often when you return it is a different social worker with different criteria. Have you recalled the last time? Chances are it was not pleasant.
Why do we so often get the runaround and why do we get fed cryptic lines and excuses when we’re just trying to be good citizens and follow the laws? Is it because they’re in the process of stealing millions of the Treasury like Road Traffic and don’t want to be interrupted with actual work?
The system is corrupt and it reflects on all levels. It has been for a long time. The left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing or even acknowledge it exists. There’s no money or action towards improvements and maintenance – only for $40 sandwiches and new projects that will be abandoned in ten years.
We can be a better country. But we must hold ourselves and others accountable. We must stop excusing those we voted for, and on the flip side we must stop sabotaging acts that benefit the country just because it comes from who you didn’t vote for.