Attorney-at-law Gordon Robinson has been consistently urging the Jamaican Government to "lock down" the country for a defined period in order to bring the spread of the coronavirus - COVID-19 under control. He returned to that theme in his commentary on last Sunday's edition of Radio Jamaica's weekly news review show, That's a Rap, hosted by Earl Moxam.
Below is the script of Robinson's commentary.
For weeks now I’ve been calling for a 21 day lock down of the entire Island.
Instead, Government prefers a drip, drip, tap drip method of imposing restrictions in a discriminatory manner while exempting everybody and their Granny as “essential workers”. My Chinese Chef would say “Wok the Heck!”
Government talks a good talk but is yet to walk that talk. So we, under-educated and undisciplined, follow the leader. Wi want to go outside. It hot inside. Wi go outside. Wi want longer hours to drink. Wi video a request to PM. Wi want to kick ball. Wi kick ball. MP an’ Minista ah do as dey like. Why not we?
Look, in the context of how our tribal politics has worked, government has done its best to control the virus. But because it lacked the courage to invite the Opposition to join in a bi-partisan approach, much of government’s action has been driven by fear of loss of political capital. Similar fears have driven the Opposition to pounce on every opportunity to disparage Government policy regardless of merit.
Predictably, this extreme reluctance to escape the tribal box has forced government to be forever chasing the virus instead of attacking it. I’ve said before that, on March 10, a national State of Public Emergency should’ve been declared to fight this vicious and indiscriminate murderer.
It’s not too late. Government needs to stop governing by announcement and start governing for effect with enforcement at its strategic centre. Lock down declarations alone won’t cut it. If you don’t believe me ask the guy who tied a bed to the roof of his car and relocated from St Catherine shortly after the parish lock down was announced.
No point locking down if covid doesn’t notice. An effective lock down comes with strategic re-deployment of security forces (including outside markets, supermarkets and financial institutions) to strictly enforce curfews, crowd size; wearing of masks; and physical distancing.
Germany’s month-long lock down brought infections to acceptable levels. Until a vaccine is widely available, that’s the best a government in a free and democratic society can do. But Jamaica’s rampant indiscipline (not a German characteristic) can only be addressed by strict enforcement measures.
Government’s sluggish reaction to this pandemic seems to be driven by fear of offending commerce. Otherwise, why its extreme reluctance to shut down call centres even after alleging breaches at Alorica were deliberately hidden from Health Ministry auditors?
But I’ll give government a guarantee. I promise commerce will never die. Individual businesses might. Commerce won’t. But people will. Why? Commerce's driving force is profit. Like Count Vlad, commerce will make whatever adjustments or adaptations needed to sustain that insatiable hunger especially as technology offers options.
Dead people have a slightly more difficult time adapting.
You may access the audio of the commentary and a follow-up discussion with business consultant and economist Chris Stokes by clicking on the audio icon above.