Are our leaders concerned about the plight of those voters?

Dear Editor,

I would like to be a fly on the wall in the Office of the Presidency. The Prime Minister’s office is at the same address, so I would just fly between the two offices. I would like to know who advises the leaders of our country. Do they ever remember that people vote for them? Are they really concerned about the plight of those voters? If so, how do they muster the gumption to speak the way they do and say the things they say?

Without batting an eyelid the President said that Lazy man work will attract lazy man pay. President Granger has a great sense of humour and at first I thought he was joking. It cannot be that he was joking because it is over a month now that he made those remarks and he nor his folks have seen it fit to walk those comments back. So I am left to believe that the President was serious in his remarks. The reason I asked about who advises our leaders (and all great leaders have advisers whom they listen to), is because by now, someone should have said to President Granger that he has bought into a long held racist belief that Black people are generally lazy and that he should seek to reword those comments.

The President made those remarks as he was receiving the commissioned report on wages for the workers in Guyana’s public sector. The public sector in Guyana is dominated by Black workers; police, nurses, the army, the Government offices workers, etc. And for as long as there have been a public sector in Guyana, for just as long, those workers have been grossly underpaid. Now the time has come to double their wages, or at least, significantly increase it, their President says to them, some of you are lazy, and I will reflect your quality of work in what I pay you.

Couldn’t the President have said, “Ladies and gentlemen, now that we have agreed to give you a significant raise of pay, we hope that your quality of work will also be significantly improved? Or, “Servants of the people, the government has decided to stretch our financial limits to accommodate an increase in your wages, we hope that you appreciate what we are doing, and that you will also stretch the standards of your work.” Or something like that. Why did he not use the occasion to speak as a champion of the working class?

Then days later we heard the comments of our dear Prime Minister. He said that the doubling of the fees to cross the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) is a “slight” increase. And he did not stop there. It was as if he did not hear what he said. He went on to justify his remarks by comparing the Demerara Harbour Bridge’s toll with that of the Berbice Bridge toll. Now I would think that the Prime Minister would have still been furious with those who continue to poke out the financial eyes of those who are paying those exorbitant fees to cross the Berbice Bridge. After all, he did convince me that he was very angry with those tolls, when he was on the campaign trail. Instead, our dear Prime Minister is arguing that the Demerara Harbour Bridge’s toll needs to be increased so as to create some semblance of “fairness” for those who commute across the Berbice Bridge. Oh what a difference a year makes!

Editor, let’s go back to his “slight” remark. Nagamootoo said that to him, there is nothing wrong with the doubling of the fees to cross the DHB. He said that those fees will help with the maintenance of the bridge. Please do the math with me. If I pay $100 a day to cross the bridge for five days that is $1000 a month, extra, that I have to pay. If I live in a double household and we travel separately, that is $2000 per month. By any stretch of the imagination, that translates to a significant amount of money. That is gas, lunch, uniform, utilities, etc. Yet the man I voted for, hoping that he would lower my cost of living (a better life for all, wink wink), is promising to saddle me with another cost and he thinks so flippantly of me that he promises to take another $1000 a month of my money and calls it ‘slight’.

Additionally, what about those who inadvertently have to cross both bridges? Do they qualify from some wavier? Finally, guess how much the Prime Minister spends in gas or tolls to cross any bridge. Should he not also contribute to the bridge’s maintenance?

Yours truly,

Wendell Jeffrey