Before I go any further, let me admit from the start that I have absolutely no idea what rules and regulations apply in the situations I am about to recall and relate. No idea whatsoever, so I may be whistling in the wind or writing twaddle. I just don’t know, but, not knowing, I have the right to request, even demand answers to questions that seem perfectly reasonable – reasonable at least to me.
I recall, during the heady days of the InTime Project when I still believed that I could make a difference in Saint Lucia, being asked by several schools that had been severely affected by flooding for new, additional, computers to replace the ones we had already donated. Their computer classrooms had been wiped out.
I say ‘additional’ because the requests for replacement computers always exceeded the number of computers we had originally donated. Apparently, we were the only donors in town naïve enough to consider replacing not only the modern, brand-new computers donated by us, but also the motley collection of worn-out, broken, electronically challenged, obsolete machines that had been donated by others. Our school principals, lovely people that they are, are also pretty canny when it comes to begging – they’re simply, in the words of Tina Turner, the best, better than all the rest!
On other occasions we were asked to contribute towards the replacement of equipment that had been stolen. The police had been informed, presumably through the Ministry of Education, but had never recovered the goods.
Then again, there were the computers that had simply ceased to function, or had been damaged in some way. While we were running the Project we had people who went around fixing things, but after we handed the Project over to the authorities there seems to have been no servicing of equipment at all.
So what do we have? Well, we have damage through natural disasters; we have theft; we have damage due to wear and tear or negligence. We also had ‘malfunctions’ due to, well, well what shall I say, a lack of common sense, perhaps; we had malfunctions due to batteries running out and schools expecting us to provide new batteries for ‘mouses’ – I can’t bring myself to say ‘mice’.
All these queries were occasioned by the recent Throne Speech delivered by the Governor General. Her Excellency was pleased – no let me rephrase that – Her Excellency was dismayed to report the damage caused by Hurricane Tomas and the now infamous Christmas Eve Storm of 2013. Actually, we all know that Her Excellency was reading a script prepared by someone else; a Governor General seldom, if ever, has much say in what a Throne Speech might contain.
By the way, I feel a digression coming on: Hands up all of you who knew that Dominica does not have a Governor General? Antigua does, as does St Vincent. And so does Grenada, as well as St Kitts. For reasons I am not sure about, Dominica, on gaining Independence from Britain, instantaneously became a Republic with an elected President as Head of State. The present President is Charles Savarin. He was elected President of the Commonwealth of Dominica by the House of Assembly on Monday, September 30, 2013. He will serve for five years.
Whoops! I strayed way off track once again. What was I saying? Oh, yes, Insurances. Why don’t our governments insure our property? I think I am right in saying that Bordelais is not insured, and I am pretty certain that our roads and bridges are not insured. And what about the schools and their contents? Surely schoolchildren are insured? How about public buildings? Are they insured? I mean, how can a government, any government, the custodian of all our national assets, not protect the citizens of this country from loss due to disasters, theft and negligence by insuring the darned things?
Maybe they look at it this way: We never paid for all these things in the first place; somebody else did. And hopefully, we’ll be able to find another naïve donor willing to pay for replacements for all the things we never took proper care of through maintaining and insuring them. No bank would lend you cent if you refused to insure the house you were building. And you couldn’t drive a car without insurance. Gosh, I hope I’m wrong on this one – but by the way, I suspect much of the damage caused by hurricanes ends up being paid for by private citizens, businesses, or their insurance companies, not our government!