Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why It's Exhausting To Live In Guyana -7

Because it makes you feel like a small insignificant piece of humanity who don't matter. My long-suffering mechanic woke up to find his yard flooded and having not invested in ramp that lifts the vehicle in the air or not having the space to construct a concrete ramp as the other out-of-town mechanics do, due to lack of space; his work ground to a halt.
City Hall apparently can't find the City Engineer's Plan for drainage and the Lands and Survey Department was equally unhelpful and advised him to check City Hall.  So basically the poor man is going around in a circle seeing that the other side of the street is not flooded and his side is!  Apparently there are drains/culverts but the guard to stop clutter from going in and blocking got removed-- either by those people paid to clean and never replaced or one of the numerous madmen on the road. So he has to shell out of his pocket to find someone to go and clear out the gunk (my friend in Canada says, Guyanese only run to fix the roof when it rains- my defence was that you only KNOW the roof is leaking when it rains!)
So the knowledge that the new wing of the Hospital has been built on some of the drains that were meant to drain his area does not help; neither that the current flooding of a few selected streets, mine included, is not due to overnight rainfall but rather the accumulation of water from other areas as this area of Cummingsburg is just before the final destination of the Demerara River. Most fustratingly, the Lamaha Canal isn't looking flooded/overtopped and apparently in 2005 after severe flooding of the City, a pump was installed which has since stopped working. So what's the solution? The super-rich, that is- not money earned through the formal economy, generally buy a property and raise their buildings about a foot from the road so it's not their immediate problem, the rest go line up for a visa out of here.


  1. So friend from Canada read and replied:
    There is a quotation I’ll paraphrase and attribute to Edward Banfield that claims that the higher one’s social and intellectual class, the greater the tendency to attempt to protect one’s position by actually managing for the future or life’s “beforemath”. Examples of such ingrained behaviors among society’s elite would include purchasing of various types of insurance products, or lobbying to influence in a particular direction a piece of government legislation while it is still being molded by politicians and bureaucrats, etc.
    By contrast, the lower classes are resigned to dealing with the effects of the vagaries of life as best they can—the aftermath.
    Applying this quotation to Guyana, a roof (frankly, any asset) has a projected lifespan which might be lengthened a little through judicious maintenance, but eventually will need to be replaced in its entirety. Managing for the beforemath means a proactive, scheduled climb up onto the roof, studiously inspecting it for leaks, making any small repairs deemed necessary, and certifying that the roof is safe for another X months/years until its next inspection. Managing for the beforemath means being disciplined enough to set aside a small sum of money every year dedicated to funding the eventual replacement of the asset.
    Managing for the aftermath, which I fear has become the default Caribbean man-in-the-street mindset, involves waiting for an actual calamity to strike before taking remedial action. I am curious as to whether the accounting systems around the colonial infrastructure handed over at Independence across the Caribbean included allocations for depreciation/depletion expenses and whether, post-Independence, the money was actually set aside. Or whether, as long as it was sunny (figuratively-speaking), that money treated as a windfall—a gift from God--and spent elsewhere. My irritation with Guyana is that on visiting or reading the online newspapers, there appears to be little effort on the part of many people to manage their respective “beforemaths”. The late Peter Bernstein in his best seller, “Against the Gods: the Remarkable Story of Risk”, stipulates early on that one can effectively rank societies according to how well they approach the task of dealing with life’s unforeseen events. Do they simply chalk it up to the gods or do they actually attempt to manage the risk? I’ll sign off noting that the Japanese have had a futures market in rice since 1730. Guyanese rice farmers, on the other hand, to this day still bemoan prices and the weather not “going their way”.

    1. Smiles-- my reply was:

      I must say in the defence of people living here-- unless you have money to gamble with-- that is be prepared to lose then it is hard to be convinced to invest in the long-term-- my heart totally goes out to a family who opened a nice looking snackette opposite the Driver's Licence place in Princess St which had been there YEARS and the damm office moved to Camp St! I had no idea they were planning that!!! But isn't that what business is about-- information--so you can be in the right place at the right time?

      - in defence of our rice farmers-- the market in Japan is totally different to ours-- they have a history of self-sufficiency-- we unfortunately are saddled with a market geared for export-- our local market cannot sustain industry on a large scale - I have recently re-discovered my love for Plaintain Chips but sadly it is due to the export from Costa Rica as my last five attempts to buy local tasted stale and off