Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The dark side of disaster relief

OK. I am back with my nagging. I've been watching, listening and hating things for several days now. Let's talk about the present disaster relief effort in Pakistan, if there's such a thing. Here are a few observations:
1- Coffin cloth that was being sold for Rs. 150 is being sold for Rs. 300 per head
2- Want to rent a truck to send relief goods to the affected areas? Guess what, the rent just went up!
3- People are offering their private aircraft for rent. Damn these bastards! If they can afford to buy an aircraft, they can certainly afford to operate it on a few relieft flights
Yes, I know you're thinking, look at the bright side. There are people who are actually giving reasonable profit margin prices to those buying relief goods. Yes, most of the nation is out to help, to do what they can. So many volunteers! But all these volunteers are not going to be effective, as they havent been as effective as they could. Why? Because:
1- They are not trained. There's such a thing as boy scouts. In this country, the boy scouts movement (and anything but the armed forces) was never given any importance. I bet if just the boy scouts were put to motion in Pakistan, given the number of boy scouts in Pakistan, we would be in a much better position today in the disaster relief operation. Trained boy scouts know first aid, stretcher making, tent pitching, cooking, you name it.
2- No coordination. There are more than necessary logistics at certain places and nothing at others. No coordination, no control. Exactly, what the fuck was the major general assigned chief relief commissioner for anyway? How difficult is it to track who's going where in terms of volunteer relief workers? There is only one highway through Pakistan. There are only a limited number of roads heading towards the affected areas.
3- We were not prepared for this. All the above should be able to give you a hint, that we dont mean shit to our regime, and we dont mean shit to each other either, if you would read my earlier blogs about our nature and ethics (or lack thereof). So, dont expect anything from the regime. They havent been able to restore power to the affected areas. I know the terrain is difficult, but in times of crisis, man is supposed to do the impossible. It's been five God damned days, for heaven's sakes! The civilians are too caught up in themselves to be prepared for a disaster condition. Where can you buy a gas mask? Where can you buy a helmet with a torch? Where would you buy something to ensure uniterrupted, restorable, sustainable light on consecutive nights of rescue missions.
We've got Edhi foundation and the like for every day accidents, but nothing at all for something like this. We were asleep. Almost 60 years now.
Look at the disaster relief help lines. They were exposed today on local television. The anchor person called the disaster relief numbers and got the following responses:
1- No response, no one picks up
2- Someone picks up and puts the phone back on hook
3- Person answering the phone gives you another number to dial
4- Some other stupid response
What the hell else do you expect. I've been saying this for years, it's the same God damned bullshit people, as the traffic cop, as the doctor, as the enterpreneur, as the teacher, as the telephone operator, you name it. If they're this way, the reason is, we are this way. If we want this put right, wake up. From now on, we have to mobilize an NGO/volunteer organization that specializes in disaster relief. They need to have multiple aircraft at different locations in the country. They need to have light and heavy automobiles. They need to have other forms of transportation when the weather is rough for the aircraft and road transportation is impossible, like, boats, skis etc. They need to have fuel and ways to transport it safely to other places, too. They need to have skilled doctors on their list their for the beckoning 24 hours a day on the relief center within 15 minutes to be transported to the hot spot. They need trained volunteers or paid workers, again there for the beckoning all over the country. These guys must have people management skills, how to handle distressed people and to have them work productively to your benefit. These guys must have skills to use available resouces to do miracles. They must be skilled in the use of hand and machine tools. They must be skilled in vehicle repair etc. I'm not saying everyone knows all these trades, but the people management skill must be common, and then first aid. The rest can be coped by different people.
Do you think that is too expensive? Look at the filthy rich people of this country. They sign a million rupee cheque just to get it off their table without caring what it is for. Money is not the issue. Are we motivated? Do we want to do this? The real question is: Do we care about ourselves? I dont think so. Go back in time and recall the befitting comment by an American about us, "Pakistanis! They'd sell their mother if the price was right." Shame on us.

2 comments:

Sarfaraz Ahmed Soomro said...

well u r right; today in the news some people were seen handing over cheques to prime minister; i guess they just wanted to get in the goodbooks of the pm. It took them three days to get to balakot and bagh; so there are hardly any chances of survivors under the rubble ..

Faisal Nasim said...

Where are The Muslims?