Reference is made to the Demerara Waves online article of May 22nd, captioned “PM’s luxury ride raises eyebrows in Parliamentary Committee.” I must admit that it did a little more than that for me: it caused the eyes to glaze over slightly. Not again! Not one more of these uncalled for, avoidable errors in management, in judgment, and in political street smarts.
The Hon. Prime Minister, by virtue of the office he holds, is entitled to an efficient ride. That is it: an efficient, cost effective, ride; not a luxury one. After all, prime ministers should not be riding around on rickshaws or minibuses, though I am tempted. I cannot resist, however, recommending that, of the three machines on order, the first two be cancelled, and the motorcycle kept. Through this chariot, the prime minister could get a first-hand, street level, water-height appreciation for local travel conditions. Better yet, he would be setting a precedent and example for his peers to follow, throughout Guyana, and especially in the capital city.
Most would argue that the mere presence of the PM might bring traffic sanity (a tall order) to the national lunacy (a curiously local disease) on the roads, and wherever he may deign to grace with his presence. He could be seen as an unofficial outrider. And, yes, in keeping with his office, the PM ought to be given a siren and flashing lights. To conform to the party’s color scheme, those flashing lights must be a particular shade of green. There is the risk, of course, that oncoming traffic from the right or left, might interpret that as a signal to proceed, in the best traditions of “aal ah wee is waan familee.” Now, I would term that a rare meeting of the minds, and all compliments of the Hon Prime Minister. Did somebody say presidential timber…?
More soberly, sixty-five thousand (Uncle Sam) represents a lot of change for a poor country like Guyana. And this is at the duty-free level. Incorporate regular duty-free charges and the price doubles to close to twenty-six million in Guyana dollars. I am contemplating returning overseas so I can qualify for remigrant status; or arranging for helpful people at the GRA to recognize me as such, so that I can import a Toyota like this one. This has to be some kind of customized Toyota for that price tag. I must wonder if it is not a German masquerading at being Japanese.
Separately, I sympathize with the hapless PS. But who is going to tell an unlearned fellow like me that in the process of ordering an official vehicle for the PM (any PM), and he would not be involved, and closely too, demands of his position notwithstanding. If he was not, then there is the high probability of some bureaucrat (of both the old and new stripe) ordering a Lada (Russian) or Ambassador (Indian) or Volkswagen (German Beetle), and a pink one to boot. I guarantee that that would stop traffic around parliament building; there would be no need for police barriers.
In all of this, it is disheartening that veteran political players, and grizzled individuals, are so out of touch with the appearance, cost, and reaction to certain things. Clearly, some in the new group are not familiar with the word austere; and it starts with the first letter of the alphabet. If they are this disconnected from the circumstances and expectations of that word, beginning with that first letter, then I cringe when I think of the other twenty-five following in the alphabet that could very be beyond either their interest or comprehension.
If today is a repeat of yesterday (and that needs no reintroduction), then what is in store for tomorrow? Tomorrow means oil. Oil means money. Money could mean a rolling in of the Rolls-Royces. On second thoughts, better make that a Lamborghini.