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ODPM - Expensive and Useless Bureaucracy
Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2005

By Stephen Kangal


An expensive full page advertisement taken out in the Newsday on Wednesday 23 November outlining the credentials of the CEO of the ODPM confirms the original explanation for my dissatisfaction with the waffling performance of Mr. Paul Saunders. His recruitment by the ODPM infringes the tenets of transparency and equal opportunity. When and where was this position advertised for nationals to apply?

Why recruit a Jamaican national when he is patently unaware of and demonstrated his obvious complete ignorance of the ground over which he had to make emergency contingency decisions during the recent floods?

Most of his press statements showed a waffling, uncaring CEO that left us in flooded Caroni bewildered and asking what's going on with this man. Why must he confuse us with Search and Rescue operations when that is a maritime concept and everyone knew whereabouts of the victims of the flooding? He exonerated the ODPM and the fire brigade from primary responsibility for expediting humanitarian response by deflecting the ball into the court of the regional corporations. These under funded local government entities have neither the human, physical nor financial resources to respond adequately to the needs of the flood victims. His role was that of a pathetic PR practitioner looking for excuses and concocting reasons for non-performance. He appeared to be reading from a Jamaican disaster manual to give advice to those who were marooned and flooded out by a T&T flooding situation.

On the question of the traffic crawl and chaos that took place on the flooded Solomon Highway Mr. Sunders spoke on television in his ignorance of the use of alternative routes by motorists when the only other route was the flooded and impassable Southern Main Road. What traffic management systems he had in mind to avert chuck a block traffic? Additionally Mr. Saunders' advice to the flood- marooned residents in Central was to leave their properties for non-existent and ill-prepared shelters when all they needed was food, water and clothing in their homes. Mr. Sunders performance in his first major disaster response was scandalously ineffective and uncaring. He must go back to Kingston from whence he came to work in a very sensitive position.

Why did we recruit a Jamaican national to tell us how to deal with and configure a response to our perennial peculiar flooding problems? And yet the ODPM two days after a most disastrous and scandalous performance has the gall to publish the useless credentials of Mr. Saunders in a full -page expensive advertisement. That is insulting to the cosmopolitan people of T&T.

The ODPM- NEMA by another name is an expensive layer of unnecessary waffling bureaucracy that ought to be disbanded.

Provide the several regional corporations with a reasonable budget and the other requisite resources to respond to disasters and forget the institutional irrelevance of the ODPM.

As someone from Central Caroni who witnessed the recent flooding and previous disasters first hand I never cease to be amazed how people tend to intellectualise their uncaring non-performance in dealing with the problems experienced by Indo- Trinbagonians.

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