“It is an old building. It is in dire need of repair and it is an insult to the people in Barbuda, especially the police who have to live and work there.”
This is a direct quote from a Daily OBSERVER news report on April 30 headlined “Barbuda police station in need of repair.”
The reporter then stated that she was reporting the views of one police officer who is calling on the authorities to either repair the pest infested Barbuda Police Station or find new and proper accommodation for his colleagues.
Although no longer posted to Barbuda, the officer elaborated on the problems. Two officers shared a bedroom and none of the rooms occupied by the seven or eight officers were adequately furnished.
He then got very specific: “I had to keep my clothing on my bed to prevent the ants getting to them. We had to share our rooms and that leaves no room for privacy, everything is in the open. Cockroaches, termites, all kinds of pests are in the building.”
All this plus flooding of the building when it rained.
He made it quite clear that all the appropriate authorities, including the national security minister, the commissioner of police and the police welfare association had been notified of the conditions over many years but that nothing had been done.
Contrast that report with the response of the national security minister as reported the next day. He advised that the authorities are aware of the situation and are weighing their options for what needs to be done.
The minister was quoted as saying: “I am aware at the challenges at the Barbuda Police Station. I have discussed the condition of the station with the Minister of Public Works who has expressed his concern.”
This has to be one of the finest collection of political weasel words we have heard lately. However, in the next paragraph we had hopes of something substantive when the minister said that the Director of Public Works Dr Lucien Hanley should be visiting Barbuda this week.
Our hopes wavered when we saw the word “should” and then were completely dashed as we read further into the report. It seems that Dr Hanley “should” be visiting Barbuda this week and “an assessment” would be made to determine whether it would be more feasible to repair the existing facility or to find alternative premises.
Meanwhile, the commissioner of police helpfully advised that he was aware the station was in poor condition. He was even more helpful in revealing that Dr Hanley visited the station several months ago and “an assessment” was done on the building to determine what repairs are needed.
In the interest of keeping the “assessments” straight, we wish the minister, the commissioner and the director would simply give each one a number so we could keep track of them more readily.
What would have been nice is if we could go back in time and truthfully rewrite the story along the following lines: “National Security Minister Dr Errol Cort told OBSERVER Media yesterday that he had been informed of the disgusting conditions at the Barbuda Police Station. A team of pest control experts and builders have immediately been sent to Barbuda to make conditions better within a matter of days.
“He also said that work would begin at the same time to complete the Justice Complex next to the Barbuda Council Building and that the work will be completed by the end of this year. This building will provide comfortable accommodations for police officers on assignment to Barbuda.”
In our rewriting, we would also dig to find out where exactly the money would be coming from to pay for all this. Do you think we’ll ever see a story like this?