Following on from my recent article regarding parking meters; it has been extremely refreshing witnessing people joining together for a worthy cause. In a country with continuing racial tension and divisions, seeing people of all races and from diverse backgrounds unite to stand up and be heard, shows hope for our community. Also worthy of praise is the approach to voicing your opinions; it has been steered by those calling for peaceful demonstration, legal tactics and has been conducted to the letter of the law.
The short time that has passed since the implementation of the meters has indeed shown huge flaws in the system. It is evident that poor planning, limited consultation and short-sightedness have created a seriously conflicting situation and the way in which the system is presently being managed is highly inappropriate in some cases.
Unfairness is a valid reason for being angry and the main cause for emotions to run high, When a large number of people share this feeling there can be power in those numbers if organised and led appropriately. Where points are valid, relevant people sit up and listen. The potential problem is that it is easy to veer away from those valid points and be in danger of losing a stronghold by letting narrow-mindedness overshadow the real issues. It is important to take a balanced view of the matter at hand and move forward showing an understanding of a bigger picture.
For example, during comments being made about the percentage ratio of the parking company and the Council, how many people are considering the cost for the company to install and maintain the meters? How many are adding up the cost of staffing? How many are taking into account the time, energy and money it takes to set up a business? I can assure you not many would do all of the above without expecting to make a good profit.
Instead of attacking something that is a business model we would all use in our own relevant circumstances, it is important to stick to the point. How affordable the parking is, how fairly the sanctions are being delivered and the effects on local businesses are issues which affect us and that we have a right to speak out about. While of course there is relevance in the profit margins, it seems that some people are more concerned with the profit the company will be making rather than the effect it is having on Guyanese day to day living.
Evidently, big corporations often attract this sort of thinking. Disgruntled people have been complaining about the oil companies of late too; about the percentage of their cut when production starts. Once again I have to ask if any thought has been given to investment of time, money, skilled labour, precision machinery and expertise, let alone the huge gamble an oil company makes when searching for the natural resource. Any thoughts to the amount of money that goes into the community development that forms part of their corporate responsibility in any country they explore, or the support they give to education programmes, indigenous communities and social projects?
Another issue at the forefront is local employment opportunities. We have to be realistic and accept that many of the jobs in this field require skilled, qualified personnel. Indeed if locals have the capacity and knowledge to fill positions then there would be cause for concern if they were not utilised. I have to wonder if the people who complain the loudest have taken time to find out how many jobs are available that could be effectively filled by locals and if they know that there are already a high percentage of locals working for the oil company and being trained to fill more positions.
Whatever your ethical position on oil companies, big business or City Council deals and whatever injustices any of these companies are or are not responsible for, there is still a bigger picture. Standing up to injustice is an admirable quality and as a society it is imperative that we work together to speak out for the good of ourselves and our neighbours. We have to strive to do this with a balanced view and not allow our anger at valid issues spill over into or cloud our judgements in other areas. To be taken seriously and effect positive change for our communities, whether leading or supporting, accepting the big picture and not seeing only negatives will give us a stronger voice and make those who need to hear us more obliged to listen.