The recent murders of a taximan and a bus driver and the subsequent war-strike in the public transport sector has left the nation shaken. These two warring factions of not more than a few hundred managed, in a few short hours, to have the workforce — school commuter and lay person — in transport limbo for nearly three days.
Many people have laid the blame with the taxi driver, others have blamed the bus driver, but all agree that something isn’t right when a road incident can shut down the nation’s capital and disturb the old capital.
If an alien from planet Xenu were to have visited Jamaica between yesterday and today they would have left feeling secure that this country has no functioning government, or at least not one which has total control outside of the environs of the military base.
A few questions: How can the nation’s capital be shut down due to the death and war between taxi drivers and bus drivers (not even a case of Dudus)? How is it that this (attempted murder, murder, retaliatory murder) can be your first reaction after alleged bad driving or being hit?
How is it, in a land where most of the areas affected were under security operations, the drivers feel unsafe and brazen enough to act the way they did?
I think we should get to the root of these questions and deal with them now, with urgency since we see the spark. If we don’t, then as sure as night follows day more violent drama will come.
To the first question which is in fact the most important, how could the killing of these men lead to a total shutdown? The answer is that the taximen, for the most part, are either pushing badness, have badness behind them as support or are in the pay of corrupt. It’s not hard in this country to be a bad man or be associated with one. Anyone with half a brain and the yearning to be a gangster or wannabe gangster can get the starter pack and knows where to go, as well as the cost. We have problems right here, just in this one scenario.
To the second question, how is it that parking a car, attempting to stab someone, killing the stabber and then retaliating, becomes your first response to alleged bad driving or even being hit? Why are we resorting to violence first, traumatizing everyone involved, their family members and witnesses? This is so for many reasons, but it boils down to there being in reality no solution for conflict resolution.
In the case of an accident involving any government car, everyone will tell you that the pay-out, while large, will be long in coming and may not even come in your lifetime. That alone would be enough to send a stressed person past the breaking point. We are not taught as children, in our clubs and societies, at school or at church how to resolve conflict so we reach for what we know. It plays out in general society (the known thief getting killed by a group after the police refuse to take him in etc) and is and was bound to become even more public and visible.
Now to the most interesting question, how is it that in a land under so many special security operations can anyone, let alone a government worker, feel so unsafe that they need to strike and then have security officials ride shotgun for protection? What of the ZOSO and SOE which have in fact been implemented in most of these areas where the drivers fear to go? The answer to this is simple, the SOEs and ZOSOs have been overused, the police/army are overextended and (the shocker) they have been used for things which they were not designed for.
That point, more than anything, highlights what’s wrong with this country. As opposed to crafting a real crime plan dealing with all the exciting bits and boring parts (like conflict resolution) we have areas inundated with security forces. People grow used to them and they lose their fear factor and people act in the way they did the other day.
Since we have no crime plan, no plan to change how society operates, we are left in the same position today as we were on Monday, waiting on tenterhooks for another minor incident to lead to the nation’s capital shutting down.
We are close to the edge. Last week, I hope, has shown us just how close we are and how it won’t take much to push the nation collectively over the edge into anarchy as Howard Mitchell recently (and oh so many before) so eloquently put it. The people have long been in a state of sheer apathy and ambivalence. That is always the harbinger of doom, and rather than do anything or politicians cement the apathy and our civic society groups make mealy-mouth statements, wring hands in condemnation and then back the same people destroying the nation and breeding apathy.
If we want to stop the inevitable rage and violence which will follow the apathy, then it is time to do something and change the system which breeds this. It means shaking up the state and its apparatus, removing the agencies which are nothing but corrupt. It means clearing out the corrupt civil servants and politicians by jailing them. The process is long and laborious and means so much more than simply ‘putting boots on the ground’.
The entire nation, from the people in Cherry Gardens to those sleeping in tenement yards need to change how we think and operate and for that, more than anything, we need a functioning state fully involved in the core areas of its people’s lives (security, health, education, employment, housing).
A social plan can’t be implemented by a state or its agencies which are tainted or whose sole function is to oppress and hamper (a historical holdover from colonialism). A social plan can’t be implemented by politicians and civil servants who operate along the same failed lines. And a social plan can’t be implemented by a civic sector which turns a blind eye at the best of times and endorses at the worst of times the mad and harmful practices and policies which come from the state and its agencies. And if we can’t implement a social plan then we have no hope in implementing a crime plan which will do anything more than scrape poor people off the street.
If there are no rules or no hope of enforcement of the rules people will live by their own code. If there is one law for you and another for me, then after a while apathy gives way to anger. Look across to Haiti – that is what happens when apathy turns to anger, that is the end product of a government and civic society which abdicated their responsibilities while enabling the economic rape of their nation.
I have said it before, and after Monday it seems others are coming to the realisation that either we seriously come to grips with our social ills and deal with them in total, affecting both uptown and downtown, or enact the police state we seem to dancing around.
The time for dithering is over, lack of action on any front will lead to anarchy and we can’t handle that. I don’t think we want a police state either, so let’s get to work and seriously fix this place we call home.