One of the biggest aces politicians are fond of playing during election campaigns is ‘Our town/village is too dark.
If you vote for me I will ensure that streetlights are up and running’. This seems sensible enough until you realise you have had your fair share of representatives in the hallowed house and your town keeps getting darker and darker as the years roll by.
For instance, who is the MP of the lights in the dual carriageway between Boatle and Game City. I can bet my last thebe the first words he uttered in his campaign were ‘Our streets are dark’.
His street was, however, not dark but it has progressively gotten darker and darker as the months went by. This will give the next guy very good ammunition for his campaign. We of course have not quite figured out how politicians resort to subterfuge to win elections and we are susceptible to swallowing it hook, line and sinker.
From my in-depth analysis which involved administering a survey on two of my bewildered friends over a glass of beer my sample was in agreement that politicians cannot fix streetlights. I know from the more academic side my sample size is way too small to be used to make any executive national decisions but I am quite happy to go with it. One of my disclaimers is that the sample might have been teetering on the brink of inebriation. What really needs to be fixed is the process of procurement. The sluggish and pedantic procurement machinery almost tops applying for a piece of land at the land board. Let’s say the officer who is responsible for engaging streetlight fixers sees a dead streetlight. They will drive past that streetlight for a few years. Then a couple of people will get mugged, raped and even in extreme cases murdered.
Then an MP will complain about these vices in Parliament. For a good few weeks there will be a debate around this in Parliament.
Meanwhile, someone will get raped under that same streetlight. Depending on which side of the political divide the MP coming up with the issue his camp will support it and the other side will trash it. You would hear something like ‘Our streets are safe. It is the muggers and murderers who make them unsafe’.
Meanwhile, another is getting mugged under the same streetlight. Then a decision to fix the streetlight will be made and the Minister of Streetlights will be given a budget for same. Meanwhile, yet another murder happens under the same streetlight.
The procuring entities will then be tasked with finding streetlight fixers. There will be what is called an Invitation To Tender that would be floated in the media. Prospective streetlight fixing companies, companies that clean windows, cattle-chasing patrol companies and some with very strange nomenclature not vaguely related to fixing any sort of light will try their luck. The tender is then evaluated and awarded.
If the tender crosses the P1 million mark, one of the companies that lost out will claim something like the evaluator is a sister to a cousin of the brother who is the uncle to the shareholder of the winning bid. It will litigate and the court will say something like ‘Stop! Don’t dare touch those streetlights yet.’
Now we all know that the wheels of justice are slower than a guy chasing a bus in snowshoes. So after a few years, more muggings and more murders the court would give the go ahead to the company that managed to win the court case.
In that time there would be a discovery of a pandemic and some oil-producing country would challenge America’s views on human rights meaning prices for fixing streetlights would have gone up a few notches.
We do hope streetlights will somehow get fixed one day. Dark streets have made our cities and towns unsafe.
I do hope one day when as soon as the politician says ‘We need streetlights’ the general response from the electorates would be ‘Rubbish’. It won’t fix streetlights per se, but it would save us from deceptive politicians. It would save us from politicians who were seemingly hiding behind the door when God was giving out brains!
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