Miseries of unplanned growth


When economic growth occurs there’s the natural expectation that it would lift all boats especially for its hosts in a clean and healthy environment.

But a critical scrutiny of unbridled growth especially around the business center in Garapan has turned life into a calvary of miseries for locals.

Water: Water hours in Garapan and adjoining areas has been reduced to two hours per day from the usual 24-hours. There’s hardly any water for family use or kids who had to tidy up for school in the morning.

This happens when current basic infrastructure, e.g., water, power, sewer, and roads were never improved to absorb explosive expansion. This is the prize we pay when geniuses like Sen. Arnold Palacios ensured that BSI is absolved of agency scrutiny. Later, he too was asking, superficially donning the victimhood hat, what about water and power for Garapan? How many overcooked fried eggs did you eat, sir?

Generator: Who paid for the new generator and dedicated power grid hook-up expenses for BSI? I see, when natural calamities hit only CHC and BSI would have power while the rest inch their way through darkness? Wow! Talk about the work of evil geniuses that now bow daily to Lord Weed!

Eviction: The unbridled expansion also saw foreigners buying properties all over. They’re busy rebuilding for profit that includes ousting locals placed there under housing vouchers due to their station in life. They were removed and displaced! This must be the prize of progress, right?

B&B: Legislators ought to delve into whether the improved properties have been turned into Breakfast and Bed rentals. Is it fair that hotels that have been with us through thick and thin are forced to pay “occupancy tax” while the new B&B walk off Scott Free?

Others who’ve built living quarters and granted “qualifying certificates” have also ensured that their clientele didn’t include folks that are in the poverty income category. This definitely merits probing! Leyisleche?

Pollution: The arcane sewer treatment system in Agiñgan Point would be overloaded with heavy effluent. It presents greater chance of raw sewage being dumped into the ocean and pushed into the lagoon fronting the western side of the island. We’d be eating fat shitty fish while our tourists bask in filthy water too! Isn’t this a bit too risky for a highly fragile island environment?

Congestion: Traffic congestion has intensified where travel to Garapan turns into the longest unguided funeral procession. I personally drove from As Terlaje to the intersection that heads north to McDonald’s. It was a frustratingly insane 31-minute drive. I used to clear it in less than seven minutes. Now it’s forever! What a way to get to the hospital before you turn statistics behind the wheels!

Collateral: Grocery stores and other vendors in the area have also raised cost of goods up to tourist price at the expense of local consumers. Isn’t this a form of greed at our expense?

Some say the offshoot has created jobs. Fine. But the beneficiaries too had to endure the same unsolicited congestion on the way to and from work. Jobs may pay well but is it really worth the hardship we have to endure collectively?

When business activities contract, the new real estate owners simply take to jet ways and head elsewhere where the grass is greener. We’d be stuck here with all the mess wrought by unplanned economic expansion.

Influence peddling: It’s in the news that alleged Lt. Gov. Biktot Hokog met with the Lottery Commission ahead of the group’s meeting. What was discussed in obvious violation of the Open Government Act? Isn’t this what’s known as “influence peddling” which is illegal?

But then what do we expect from Hokog’s usual evasions and circumlocutions? But is he the single advance team captain of BSI? If I may reiterate, sir, it’s called “influence peddling!” No animus here, it’s just that fiat is now the order of business rather than the exception. Is this it?

The commission seemed to have forgiven BSI penalties for failing to meet its opening deadline. So what’s the essence of legal provisions if each time the commission looks the other way? Shouldn’t it be protecting the interest of the people in this case?

Nurse shortage: About five nurses have gone home recently while 30 more are slated to leave CHC by July. An additional 70 would leave by December as a result of the non-resolution of the CW issue. The hospital would suffer heavily by then. I know the management is painfully mulling the impending setback.

The issue is with U.S. Homeland Security that has yet to make a decision to meet the dire needs of territories. Nurse shortage is also a nationwide problem. It is also a major issue in both NMI and Guam hospitals. Non-resolution could mean cutting down various healthcare services in both jurisdictions.

Airport chaos: We’ve made so much progress even the airport is congested with confused visitors. It depicts the typical local way of problem solving: address in an empty speech; don’t solve it. Then stand back, smile, and ask, “Whose job is it?”

Absurdity: The AGO represents the secretary of finance in one case then turns right around and sues her on another. It must be a higher level of foggy irony in absurdity, true? Is this only found in the legal profession?

$80K Scandal: One of the most shallow legislation I’ve seen in years is the plan to increase legislators’ salaries up to $80,000 per year. You quiz if legislators are aware that some 51 percent of employees are earning poverty income level and below? Do they know that salaries have been stagnant for over 20 years?

Which reminds me of a book “Inside Job” where the author spoke of a government “of the people and by the people.” He deleted the “for the people” end of it because it is reserved for unscrupulous politicians! Did you get that pal?

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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