A Tale of Two Cities Print E-mail
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Written by Jamil Matar   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 00:00

Before you attempt to associate my topic with the epic tale by the great Charles Dickens, let me quickly clarify that my intention is to simply attempt to draw contrast between Belize City and Orange Walk Town. My thesis in this essay is to demonstrate that when the leadership of a political party has vision, a nation will move forward in development.

Since March 7th,  the Mayor of Belize City has appeared on several occasions in the news, beginning with his hundred-day plan and his clean-up campaign on Labour Day. He soon thereafter, gave full account of these endeavors, explaining their individual successes or limited accomplishments. Judging from his press coverage, it seems that Mayor Bradley is enjoying good credibility ratings on account of his stern headship at the Council.

He has further, since the first hundred days, cemented his commitment to improve the old capital by paving several streets even with the financial constraints being encountered by the Council owing to a low revenue stream to its coffers. In addition to his candor, the Mayor seems to be a no-nonsense character, as was seen in his decisiveness with the traffic portfolio.

It is usually at this point that some of you might murmur, but they all start that way and then promptly deviate from the straight and narrow. In response, all I can say is, I am not in the habit of swearing for any man, or woman, so we will have to leave that one for time to address.

For now, however, I can readily admit that with the idea of floating a municipal bond the Mayor has shown vision and panache. The nagging question at the back of my mind was this: where will the money come from to service this bond? Will he be just another Mayor who brags about doing this and that and then runs to Central Government hat-in-hands for grants?

The Mayor not only outlined how he would raise the funds and what he will utilize these on, but he had a plan how the City Council itself would meet payments on the bond. Seems that the City now has a very focused Mayor, which is long overdue, and the Old Capital will soon witness major improvements to look maybe even like Chetumal in the future.

But now as I turn my eyes on my hometown, I want to weep. We previously had a Mayor, who was a dedicated Orange Walkeño with love for town and country but we went ahead and replaced him. We heeded the courtship of demagogues, who promised to fix up this town. They had all the answers before the elections; how to fix streets, dig drains, create jobs, you name it; they could do it like it’s never been done before.

Now look at our streets, man, and our parks and playgrounds. There is no pride in calling it my town now and my fellow citizens are quickly coming to grips with what we did on March 7. We can now appreciate that words alone cannot fix streets, drains, and create jobs; it needs bold plans to do these things, along with vision and resolve. Orange Walk slumbers on these days; leaderless and rudderless.