2791Re: Harbour Repair Update
- Jun 30, 2014It seems clear that DFID is cutting off its nose to spite its face - funding short-term unsatisfactory repairs now instead of investing longterm in the islanders' future. We're now coming out of recession and the excuse that they have insufficient funding is no longer tenable.
Can anything more be done?
Let's look at economic crises in a few of the other Overseas Territories.
St. Helena used to be heavily fortified and housed a large garrison that was the basis of a thriving economy. Napoleon died in 1821, the garrison was closed and the economy crashed. There was enough to keep everyone fed until 1969 when the Suez Canal opened and ships stopping coming to St. Helena for provisioning.
Since then, HMG has experimented with everything they could think of to keep from having to building the Saints a very expensive airport. They messed about for 140 years before agreeing to spend something like 270 million Pounds on air access. They may be less inclined to build an expensive harbour for 270 people.
The few dozen people of Pitcairn were a bother so the FCO pretty much ignored them for a long time. The consequences proved to be both embarrassing and expensive. I'm not sure they've learn from that experience.
In 1997 the Overseas Development Administration became the Dept. for International Development and Clare Short became its first Minister. A few months later, the island of Montserrat was devastated by a volcanic eruption which rendered half the island uninhabitable. When the 4,500 islanders asked for more help from the DfID, Short remarked "they will be asking for golden elephants next" and refused to visit the island. The crisis was handled remarkably badly. Many of us believe DFID did this hoping everyone would leave. They didn't. DFID eventually spent a lot of money there, but the economy toils not; neither does it spin.
We need not dwell on official inaction in the face of corruption, in the Caribbean Territories and beyond, or the OT Minister's fact finding mission to TCI where she concluded there was no corruption.
The Tristanians are lovely people. They have two centures of practice in a rather unique culture that discourages leadership and affords undue respect for external authority figures. And they are remarkably closed about their affairs.
I don't know how to help them because I don't know what they want. And I hasten to add that no one's appointed me to help anyone.
Since I believe that knowledge is the basis of an informed opinion, I'd like to read DFID's engineering report on the harbour and the alternatives. All contributions in this regard are welcome.
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