November 14th 2012 and It has been one year since a fatal traffic accident involving a stray cattle claimed the life of David Joseph of Glanvillia, Portsmouth.
As is par for the course when events of this nature force themselves upon us there was massive outrage. “Such gross negligence on the part of the owner who allowed his cattle to roam the freshly built highway from Portsmouth to Roseau, thereby causing the death of David, could ever be allowed to happen again in our sweet country” being the anthem of the day.
Promises galore were made, not least from the Police, that action would be taken to bring to justice the owner of the errant animal and clear the roads in Dominica of such hazards.
Our Parliamentary Representative, Minister of Tourism Ian Douglas and Mayor Cleave St Jean combined to make the bold promise that by December 2011 a pound would be established in the one mile area to arrest the situation of cattle roaming the streets and highways of our community ; Claiming to the effect that “in fact work is already in progress and the Ministry of Agriculture is already making resources available to deal with the situation”. Of course we know that nothing happens in Dominica within such quick time, but one year later is not an unreasonable expectation!
As recently as March 2012 the Public works Minister himself drew attention to at least 8 stray cattle which he encountered on the Picard Highway, proclaiming the danger that this nuisance represents and hinting at impending action to resolve this situation once and for all
Sadly, to this date the culprit farmer has “not been identified” or made to pay . There has been no justice for David Joseph, nor his family and friends who still mourn his passing. Grief and anger have turned to despondency and disillusionment. Mourning turned to cherished memories, scribbled poems and visits to a final resting place which still provides zero comfort for such a terrible loss.
It is often said that Dominicans have “memoir poule” meaning we forget quickly. As such, expectedly, Dominicans and the community of Portsmouth have moved on from that tragedy. We bask in our complacency and resign ourselves to the fact that this is the way life is for us. “Cest la vie”
I have not forgotten, his family has not forgotten, nor has his friends. Today the grief will return.
I still drive the Picard route to work on a daily basis and yes the cattle are still stray in their numbers roaming properties, apartment complexes and the streets freely. Their owners are incognito except for when the cattle are to be brought to market.
Those who are to be held accountable for the stray cattle , those custodians of the public trust who are charged with the protection of life and limb, live in impunity knowing fully, that they are provided immunity from consequence or accountability by a community resplendent in its own complacency.
Surely the next accident will be visited upon with the same uproar and indignation .. for a week or two .. maybe a month but then we shall settle again into our routine, apathetic, too busy, sweep the matter under the rug, because in Portsmouth and maybe in Dominica .. “even in death …Cest la vie”
Or maybe next time it might be a Ross University Student mauled to death by the normally sedate cattle or taken down like David in a horrible mishap and then; the Parl. Rep., PM., Mayor, the entire Cabinet Landlords, Vendors, “Stake holders” and the rest of Dominica will go into damage control mode and suddenly a solution might be found.
Or maybe, infected by our indifference, the single largest investor we have on island will just say “cest la vie” and life will go on as usual in our dreamy little town on our sleepy little island.
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