Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Leader of a developing-world country visits natural disaster zone

What leader of the developing world could this be...?

Well look no futher than Mr. Brian Cowen.

Nobody will doubt the accuracy of "natural disaster" but developing world is that a bit harsh for south Ireland?

Frankly no its not. If the shoe fits we should call it as it is. There is a reason why traffic in Dublin creeps along, why rail bridges collapse and why Galwegians either cant drink the water in their houses or they cant get into their houses cause of water.

The enjoyable
notesonthefront blog highlighted a report by world economic forum in October 2008 on our infrastructure. Its not comfortable reading. It turns out that infrastructure wise we are all too often a disaster.

In the category of 'Quality of Overall Infrastructure' we rank 64th in the world. 64th! 64th out of 134 countries. Our infrastructural quality ranks behind Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Azerbaijan, Jordan and Jamaica.

Sri Lanka and Mauritius are developing countries and we rank behind them. That description of south Ireland as a developing world country seems to be holding water.

Quality of Roads: We rank 70th - behind even Georgia. With a mean score of 3.5, we are closer to bottom ranking Mongolia (1.4) then we are to top ranking France (6.7).

Georgia - 70 years of Moscow mismanagement is better than 70 years of FF/FG mismanagement it seems

Quality of Port Infrastructure: But then we fall back down - all the way to 64th (we own 64). This is particularly dismal given that over 90 percent of our exports go through our ports; and we're an exporting nation. We even rank behind Zimbabwe and they're landlocked! (They rank higher because they still have better access to South African ports and any inland waterways.)

Worse than a land locked country. Brilliant stuff Fianna Fail. Why would a country like Ireland need quality ports. Thank god we are are surrounded by water but tis a pity at the moment we are under it. So according to the WEF many important aspects of our infrastructure are worse than countries we give aid to.

But the World Economic Forum are not the only body turning an eye on south Ireland. Our friends in the OECD issued a set of conclusions and recommendations at the start of November on our environmental performance.

There are many interesting points in it to discuss but I want to focus on the part that deals with water and flooding. That being topical and all.

Remember this was issued only in November. It was so rosy back then when we were assured that

Ireland has met all deadlines to date for implementing the Water Framework Directive. A new approach to minimising flood risk is being put in place.
Excellent news that. Cork will be thrilled to hear that.With brilliant timeing it continues:
nevertheless, the rate of progress so far is unlikely to prove sufficient...
The city of Galway experienced outbreaks of cryptosporidium in 2002 and 2007, and old lead pipes cause unacceptably high lead levels in more than a few towns.
Unlikely to prove sufficient. Could that be the understatement of the year? I wonder what affect having to drink faeces fouled water has on the minds of multi-nationals in Galway? Were jobs lost because of that?

But then at the end of the report's section on water, and you'd have to laugh really, they have the following recommendation to the Fianna Fail Govt:

further integrate water quality and flood risk management considerations into spatial planning and development management processes.
Can anyone imagine Fianna Fail tying together water quality, flood risk management and spatial planning. Well maybe some naive newbie in the OECD but surely in Ireland we are all learning the hard way that FF is simply too corrupt and incompetent to even tie their shoelaces.

Martin Ferris TD, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on the
Environment, put it well when he said

"The cosy relationship between Fianna Fáil and developers throughout the 80's and 90's saw housing estates spring up in the most unsuitable places such as the flood plains where so many houses have now been ruined by water. Concern for the safety of the homes being built and those living in them meant nothing as developers lusted after massive profits in an over-inflated housing market and in this they were facilitated by their friends in Fianna Fáil.

Martin hits the nail on the head by highlighting this. We have not experienced a natural disaster so much as a man made disaster. Fianna Fail let housing developments go anywhere as long as de boys paid up in the Galway tent. Can we be surprised that aspects of our infrastructure are worse than Georgia or Sri Lanka - neither countries have had an easy time. So what excuse can Fianna Fail have. Corruption, no planning or long term vision, blended with incompetency had a huge role to play in what happened.

Just ask the people in houses built on what Bandon locals used call the swamp. Welcome to a developing country.

There are a lot of ties in with this story - reformed govt:local and national, appropriate tax burden and subsequent investment, NAMA, and criminal legislaton for corruption. This flood tells us so much about modern Ireland.

1 comment:

  1. It is a disgrace for Fianna Fáil to pretend to have any consideration for the people who suffered in these floods. They blew the money created by the Celtic Tiger! Where is the quality infa structure? Where is the quality health care system? Where are the world beating Irish technology companies? Where are all the things we could have helped develop with the fruits of the biggest boom in Irish history?

    But will the people look to Sinn Féin to build a better Ireland?