Open Letter to the Prime Minister
By P. Naden
It is murmured that the foundation stone laying ceremony of the new medi-clinic of Goodlands will be held around 20 February 2013. We thank you and your government for at long last deciding to go ahead with a long overdue project.
However, we, the inhabitants of Goodlands, would like to draw your attention to a major snag that has been overlooked by the different actors involved in the conception and implementation of the project and which has the potential to undermine and bring to naught the whole project.
The new clinic will be constructed in the south west side of Cité Sainte Claire, Goodlands. Sadly enough, the part of the area bordering the clinic is notorious for its lawlessness and banditry. Even police officers dread the area and any police operations in the Cité have to be supported by other units of the police. These facts are known to one and all. We just cannot understand how such an important aspect has been overlooked. If there had been any sort of consultation with the inhabitants, we are sure that this serious shortcoming of the matter would have come up for discussion and earnest consideration. Let it be said however that we have also very good and peace-loving people living in Cité Ste Claire. Unfortunately, they are helpless against deviants whose main criterion is to misbehave, given a chance.
In view of the facts mentioned in the previous paragraph, we have the following questions to ask the authorities:
1. As users of health services, shall we have to be protected by day and night at additional cost to and from the clinic? Note that the road to the clinic forms part of the Cité.
2. Will the health personnel, predominantly women, be able to work with an easy mind especially outside normal working hours? If Police officers avoid the area, imagine the anguish to be experienced by the more vulnerable officers who will be posted at the clinic.
3. Shall we be able to go to the clinic safely in the afternoon and early evening? Here we are thinking of winter time when the sun sets around 17.45 hrs.
Normally where public transport facilities exist in Goodlands, people will come to the clinic by bus. They will alight at the terminus and will decide how to reach the clinic. We open a parenthesis here to say that the terminus is also a hot spot. The records of the police station will speak eloquently about the inherent risks. One option to get to the clinic will be to go by the road bordering the Cité. This choice will be tempting as it will be the shortest route to the proposed clinic. Many will be at serious risk of getting assaulted by day or by night if they choose to go along this road. The second option will be to walk around the new morcellement to reach the clinic. Those taking this option will have to walk more than 200 mts facing the scorching sun and the rain.
A project having this kind of scope must aim to secure the welfare of the maximum number of people at all times rather than those of a few who have personal interests to care for and nothing more. Unfortunately, the few are clad in the robe of social workers and people are a bit confused as to who really is working in their best interests.
In light of the above, we are proposing that the new clinic be relocated on a plot of land situated adjacent to the ex-Farmers’ Service Centre in Goodlands. The said plot of land is earmarked for the market project and the land has apparently already been vested to the appropriate authority. The problems of security and accessibility will be eliminated at one go once this choice is made. A bus stop has to be improvised near the clinic. Patients will alight there and reach the clinic safe and sound and in no time.
En passant, Mr Prime Minister, we are inviting you to personally visit our market on a rainy Saturday. Do come with your raincoat and your rubber boots. We are more than sure that after taking stock of the state of the market, you will immediately instruct your ministers to expedite matters in view of the construction of a new market as well.
We have felt the pulse of the Goodlanders regarding the appropriateness of the site for the clinic. People concur with us but there is a fear that if they make representations, the execution of the project might be delayed/jeopardized again.
(On behalf of the sick, the weak, the lonely senior citizens, all those who have no means of transport)
* Published in print edition on 8 February 2013