Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Tale of Two Diego Martins...

It was Abraham Lincoln who said "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

It's is time someone asked of the Chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Mr. Darryl Smith, what is behind the uneven application of the power of his office since he was appointed? Eyebrow raising and questionable, some who commit minor infractions are made to pay for their sins dearly, while others who openly flout the law are allowed to continue on with impunity.

For the purposes of these discussions I raise two examples of the disproportionate decision making by the Diego Martin Regional Corporation as exemplified clearly by these two cases.

Case one involves a structure on one of the busiest corners in all of Diego Martin - Morne Coco Road and Crystal Stream in Petit Valley to be precise, and on that corner a bar has first broken the law by building out over the parking spaces that are a requirement for their liquor license to be granted, and have broken the law further by extending their structure out over the sidewalk space and into the actual roadway, creating a virtual blind spot for motorists who now have to strain to see around the corner before they can go forward safely. A dangerous obstruction, its existence forces  pedestrians to negotiate between vehicles on the busy street to get to where they are going, in full view of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation whose offices are located within meters of this offending structure, begging the question of the DMRC's Chairman, why is this allowed to continue?

The second case involves the embattled Arbor School at Long Circular road who have been refused permissions to operate by the same DMRC going on seven months now despite meeting and overcoming every regulatory and legal obstacle put in their way, and who have now found themselves ironically to be the most 'approved' school by all state organizations and regulatory bodies if not in all of Trinidad and Tobago then certainly in Diego Martin region and yet they are barred from opening.

Why the unevenness in the rulings? As if to beg more questions as to what is behind some of the decisions, Freedom of Information requests have turned up further surprising results that not all schools are treated the same way. Up the very street from the Arbor's location is the prestigious St. Andrew's school which is allowed to operate despite not having approvals from the  same Diego Martin Regional Corporation, causing parents of the Arbor children to lament as to how can this be fair in a just world? Further compounded by the results of these investigations that point to others who have benefitted from this sliding scale of enforcement include the well heeled and posh International School at Westmoorings, which also does not have DMRC approvals to operate as a school and yet are allowed to, despite existing in a dead end cul-de-sac in an already heavily congested residential area within meters of one of the largest shopping malls in the country.

So what is going on here? Is it a case of one rule for some and another rule for others? And if so, why? I have been told of 'random' appearances of 'inspectors' from the DMRC to certain businesses who are made to get their houses in spic and span order, yet the same inspectors routinely miss glaring abuses such as the steel structure that houses a business that occupies almost an entire lane of the roadway on the corner of Mercer Road and the Diego Martin main Road.

Are these the results of incompetence? Selective vision? Corruption? Surely there must be an explanation as to why some are treated one way and others are treated another, and the person to whom the question must be posed is the Chairman himself and again I ask Mr. Darryl Smith, can you give an explanation to these double standards? Are we waiting for a pedestrian to be seriously injured or even killed due to the DMRC's negligence where Daybreak Cafe is concerned before action is taken? Are we comfortable to live in a country where a sliding scale of enforcement exists where some benefit while others punished in similar circumstances? I put to the Chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Mr. Darryl Smith that ultimately the consequences of all these decisions are his and his alone. Not everyone is cut out for public office and perhaps the solution here lies not only in a changing of some of these decisions, but also in a changing of some of the decision makers themselves.

Something to think about...

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