By: Dr. Charles Warner
There are times when sensible people must stop and wonder if Dr. Douglas and his peons really understand the problems that Douglasism made for St. Kitts and Nevis. Today these people are making a fuss about the proposed site for the Basseterre High School.
If they were asking for caution such would have been easily understood. But, there is a problem for these people. If they were to ask for caution then they will contradict themselves. Because it is the same caution why the students were moved and temporary facilities put in place.
So the way to go is to make politics out of the matter. Again, another contradictory position. These are the same people who claimed that the then Opposition was making politics of the matter.
Today, Dr. Douglas is very vocal trying to make the people believe that he cares so much. Frankly, a class action suit should have been taken against Dr. Douglas. Having a report in his hand, one which pointed to uncertainty and problems, he encouraged all to go back to the Basseterre High School. His words were “as a doctor and a parent”. With full knowledge of the situation, he advised to the detriment of the staff and pupils.
He had on his desk the report of the experts. So what is the big difference today? Shawn Richards, Minister of Education, and the government generally employed the services of a range of experts – local and foreign.
Thus the action or choice made is based on the words of these experts. Unlike in the case of Dr. Douglas the present government is going according to what the experts say. Dr. Douglas and his people went contrary to what the experts advised. As these matters go, action has to be taken based on what the experts engaged instruct.
There is a fundamental and irrefrangible fact. The public needs to take note of this. Since the children of the Basseterre High School have been relocated the incidence of the general and nonspecific complaints and illnesses has dropped to virtually nil. No longer are parents bothered about their children being sick and complaining on the radio and in public.
Thus the money spent on the new facilities has been well spent. The public’s money spent on solving a problem affecting the public, affecting the children of the taxpayers. Even with this blatant fact the present Opposition is still peddling a lot of plain rubbish. The Unity government and Mr. Shawn Richards have taken into consideration the needs of the children and resolved a serious problem.
The problem facing the country and the new government is the result of an absolutely poor and backward land use policy. If ever Douglasism had a land use policy. It is the lack of vision so prevalent in the era of Douglasism why today or over the years it has been so hard to find a spot for the school.
The situation with respect to the Basseterre High School has exposed the poor land use policy. However, every St. Kitts and Nevis citizen should be made aware of other problems which will surface. The same problems will arise for a new hospital, other schools and other aspects of infrastructure. Only foolish people would think that the only kind of building that St. Kitts and Nevis people want are low income houses.
A community is built or developed with residential housing and the other buildings (infrastructure) needed to provide the basic services. Douglasism in a purely political exercise put almost all the land under low income housing. Even fine arable land. Apparently the people living in these houses don’t want food to eat.
Based on the present position of Douglasism it seems that our children at the Basseterre High School would have been still subjected to whatever pathogens and toxins are in the school or school area. There can be no other conclusion because they are all saying that nothing is wrong at or with the school. No professional agency said that to the Douglas government. What they said is that they found problem at the school but cannot pinpoint causative agents. However, the doctors and nurses were seeing and reporting definite clinical problems or presentations.
Nigel Carty has not been heard to say much. He was the one to ignore what was clinically visible, deeming the sufferings of the children and staff as psychological or psychosomatic.
The big irony is that today these same people are trying to present themselves as caring for the people. In one way they pretend to care but on another, for them the Basseterre High School is safe. It cannot be more contradicting, be more political.
There are a number of reasons why this country has in its hands the Basseterre High School problem. Why the present government has to work so hard to find a solution. The Basseterre High School issue popped up a long time before the issue came to a head. But, the Douglas government neglected the issue.
The record of Douglasism with respect to health is there for all to see. The case of the police must not be forgotten, should be instructive. In many stations the police were threatened by cockroaches, rats and leptospirosis. They presented their problems to Dr. Douglas who ignored them. When they took action to protect themselves, Dr. Douglas told them that if they want a confrontation they will get one. He considered them or blamed them of playing politics. The same was said about the staff, students and parents. As to the police, a subsequent investigation proved that their concerns were real. Douglasism thus has a record of being callous as it relates to the health of the citizens.
At the core of the Basseterre High School issue is a bigger picture which many may not grasp. It is about a poor land use policy, lack of vision and misuse of the State’s land, under Douglasism. The issue of the relocation of the Basseterre High School is a mere reflection of the troubles which are bound to emerge in the coming years. Douglasism has “funked” St. Kitts and Nevis. Up to this day a big mass of our lands is still in the hands of banks because of the debt burden that Douglasism caused for St. Kitts and Nevis. If a better location for the new Basseterre High School cannot be found it is because of Douglasism.