Perhaps it is a nasty habit of mine but whenever I am in Grenada I tend to get a proud feeling of being in the country and I grab every moment of the time spent here to engage with people and soak up the good things our country got to offer.
However; as I walk or drive around especially in the parish of St George I got to thinking just how good or poorly our members of Parliament (MPs) are looking after their respective constituencies and constituents.
The only time I have heard from Tobias Clement, my MP (St George North East) since the general election was shortly after he was re-elected and decided to be the self-appointed parliamentary Shop Steward. Here is a man who did absolutely nothing for the constituency or constituents of St George North east in his first 5 years in parliament.
On the strength of his government’s performance over those 5 years he was given a reprieve but without saying thank you to those who re-elected him; within days of his re-election he was demanding a parliamentary pay rise and even had the audacity to go public to say he has sent a cheque to the value of his parliamentary allowance to the ministry as a protest; knowing full well it cannot be accepted.
This individual I understand is a professor but by God isn’t this guy dumb? His actions were not only an embarrassment to his Political colleagues but to people like me who voted for him.
This MP is so illusive in the constituency, he is known as the invisible man. I wrote to him during the 2018 election campaign about the condition of the roads in Mt Parnassus especially Radix. I mentioned that the drains in Radix Avenue need mending, stating that run-off water runs underneath parts of the drains rather than in the drains themselves.
I also mentioned the lack of maintenance to drains in general; repair to potholes and roadside de-bushing and seeking his support to get these things remedied but to date I have not had an acknowledgement or any form of response.
The invisible man in his election statement as part of his election pledge did mentioned repairing bridges in Mt Parnassus and widening the road in Mardigras where I understand he lives. Frankly we need to take those pledges with a pinch of salt. I can say this without any fear; no major change has been taken to either of these roads since prior to 1952 when I left Grenada as a child.
These roads were flanked on both sides by open ditches which still exist today making them extremely unsafe for pedestrians as well as motorists especially when large Lorries are travelling in the opposite direction at speed, also, driving at nights can be a nightmare as motorists travelling in the opposite direction fail to be courteous by not dimming their head lamps.
Considering the amount of extra traffic that exist on today’s road and the environmental pollution one can easily say we have gone backwards in this regards rather than forward.
The invisible man has failed to protect the visual quality of our environment especially in the suburb by not taking action on motor vehicle wrecks that have been allowed to be stacked up alongside our roads, he has failed to carry out or maintain proper and adequate road marking especially at pedestrian crossings installed near our schools.
The invisible man has failed to maintain road markings at road humps (sleeping policemen) which could result in damaged vehicles, he has failed to keep our drains free from weeds and debris allowing puddles to develop resulting in the breeding of mosquitoes which is of great environmental and health concern and he has failed to respond to his constituents letters or emails.
My Grandparents on one side of my family owned the land where we live in Laborie Road exactly opposite the corner that was widened about ten years or so ago some 50 yards from the junction with the St Paul’s main Road. My grandparents on the other side of my family was the Bruno’s of Mardigras, most of their children (my uncles and aunts) migrated but we still have roots there so, I am no stranger to the condition of these roads despite the years. One can say I know what I am talking about.
Similarly, over that period of time I cannot say any major change has been made to Laborie Road leading into Hope Vale and beyond. We have a minister of the Crown, Gregory Bowen, our parliamentary representative for St George South East who has represented this area for many years yet, nothing has been done to improve the quality of this main road – absolutely disgusting!
Bowen is not a lover of our heritage especially our historical buildings, he is reported as saying derelict buildings in our capital should be demolished. With someone like Bowen who appears to lack vision, one can understand why they have been no progress in the improvement of the Laborie Main Road leading to Hope Vale and beyond.
Another Minister in government that I believe is letting his constituency and constituents down is Nickolas Steele, the recently elected MP for St George South. While I have to admit that he has only represented the constituency for just over a year, this is a man who has been a government minister for over 6 years during that time he has developed vast experience.
Surely, he knew long before the general election was call in 2018 that he would be his Party’s candidate for St George South, therefore, he has no excuse for his lack of initiative in providing the funds or approaching the businesses in the area of Grand Anse with a plan to provide some adequate children playing facilities in Camerhogne Park.
What we have there at the moment amount to nothing which is extremely embarrassing not only to the locals but for holidayers with young children expecting facilities that would entertain their younger family.
I believe that elected members of parliament first and foremost duty is to their constituents (the people who elected them) and their constituency. We elected them to act in our best interest and that includes looking after their constituents of any political colour and the constituency they represent in parliament regardless of their other responsibilities and duties such as a government minister. They work for us and not the other way round.
In fact I will go as far to say a busy member of parliament in terms of their constituency duties regardless of the position he or she holds in government is a bad parliamentary representative and is no damn good. Has anyone seen the invisible man lately?
Members of parliament contact details should be public knowledge; this should include their constituency office details and information on when they are available to carry out surgeries including venues and times. Constituency offices should be open for business on a daily basis managed by a Political Assistant.
Surgeries should be at least once a month and at convenient times for constituents such as evenings and weekends. I also believe that elected members of parliament have an obligation to keep in touch with their constituents and should address this by publishing and distributing some sort of document at least once a year.
A document that reaches each household they represent outlining what actions and efforts have been achieved in terms of delivery to the constituency; what the government is doing (good or bad) in terms of health, welfare, education, employment, environment etc., the opposition and what they are doing/saying – true/false etc. Documents with photos can say a thousand words.
Here in Grenada we only seem to hear from our elected members at election time. That’s not good enough!