Yes, it’s good to be back: driving in from the airport after dark, blinded by all the full beam headlights coming towards me and overtaken by scooter riders with no helmets.

It’s funny, but every car I have ever driven here has a dipping switch for the headlights, which should be used as a courtesy so as not to blind oncoming traffic. Obviously the Department of Motor Vehicles and the driving instructors we have don’t teach this simple dipping rule. Whilst on the subject of traffic, I wonder why it is necessary to put kilometres per hour, or however it is expressed, on our speed signs? If it’s because of all the Spanish-speaking drivers, then we should add knots (nautical miles per hour) for all the boaters, who considerably outnumber them.

If DMV Commissioner Kye Rymer successfully runs for the House of Assembly, he will have far more important matters to address.

Irma recovery

It’s good to see the progress being made around the islands, though disappointing that not more of it is being made on government buildings and so on. The infighting over the Recovery and Development Plan among the ruling party is very worrying. More than a year after the hurricanes and very little has been done, and it seems that government wants to re-engineer and plan all projects before rebuilding. The West End ferry terminal should have absolute priority, but only recently we heard that they were inviting tenders for planning it, so it’s a long way from completion. Similarly, the Elmore Stoutt High School.

Certainly, things such as roads need careful engineering. We have seen how our past methods have been useless. Building codes definitely need tightening and enforcing.

Labour, Immigration

Reports have surfaced that our employers who bring in expatriate workers are fighting among themselves to either pay the least or most rates of pay, and that workers are jumping jobs against the present laws, which don’t seem to be enforced. Labour and Immigration are going to be our downfall yet again.

When I was in Peebles Hospital last year, there were two nurses from the United Kingdom who were out here for three weeks providing assistance in accident and emergency.

In the UK they worked for Virgin Health, one of Sir Richard Branson’s companies that actually does work for the National Health Service. However, it took six weeks to get clearance from Immigration for them to come. Yes, six weeks for three weeks of voluntary work!

Meanwhile, government seems to be falling apart, which does not bode well for the upcoming election. We are likely to have no party in overall control, and coalitions will need to be sought. That could mean four years of stalemate. Still, politicians have been known to jump sides before, sometimes more than once.

Medical school

We are told to get our apartments repaired quickly in order to accommodate 450 students in two months’ time who are coming to the “medical school.” That is on top of the number of qualified teachers needed for classes. This begs many questions. Surely they cannot all be first-year students coming at the same time? Perhaps they are one-to-four-year-level students? If so, where have years two to four been training up to now?

Reading the website for the medical school — the University of Science, Art and Technology — is interesting but not informative. They appear to have only one campus, in Montserrat. There is no mention of student numbers, fees or success rates. One gets the impression that study is mostly classwork, perhaps with television lectures from tutors in the United States, and that every so often students go to designated hospitals for practical work.

I couldn’t figure out what qualifications are offered, or whether they are acceptable in major health care systems.

‘Pie in the sky’

When Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie was in government, he commissioned a feasibility study on medical school possibilities at some great expense, but the report has never seen the light of day. I assume that since the vacant space in the hospital is not now mentioned that this will be a private business operation, with little involvement of government. As such, they have to find their own living and catering accommodations (do you think students will be able to afford the rents our landlords will demand?), classrooms, transport and so on.

There is nowhere here ready built to form a campus, except perhaps Prospect Reef, and logistics of using the sister islands make those impractical. I am not against the idea, but, as presented so far, I think it is pie in the sky.