Public Consultation Alert – (Regulatory Authority) Transact Ltd Change of Control

There is a public consultation by the Regulatory Authority concerning the proposed change of control of Transact Ltd. The deadline for submitting is Monday, October 26th.

The essential points seem to be:

  • Transact proposes to shift 100% of its shares within the Digicel Bermuda structure (Telecommunications Bermuda & West Indies Ltd. – TBWI).
  • Digicel is proposing to transfer the ownership of Transact from Wireless Holdings Ltd. to TBWI.
  • There is no sale of any assets or change in beneficial ownership.

This is essentially purely an internal company reorganisation by Digicel. The apparent purpose is to allow Transact to benefit from the 114B license currently held by TBWI. Transact in its current format is 100% owned by non-Bermudians and in order to trade in Bermuda it must have the benefit of a 114B license.

There will be no changes to operations or strategy within Digicel from this move, and Transact will remain ultimately owned and controlled by Denis O’Brien.

The consultation asks 3 questions:

  1. Will this proposed transaction have an effect(s) on competition within Bermuda’s electronic communications sector?
  2. Will this proposed transaction have an effect(s) on the residents of Bermuda with a particular interest in, but not limited to, the provision of electronic communication services in Bermuda?
  3. Will this proposed transaction have an effect on innovation within Bermuda’s electronic communications sector?

Public Consultation Alert – Regulatory Authority 2021-22 Workplan

There is a public consultation out at the moment for the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda’s workplan for 2021-22. The closing date for submitting a response is Wednesday, October 28th.

It provides an overview of what the RA did during their current workplan, and highlights some of their recommendations for fees going ahead.

There’s a lot in the document, however some key points that jumped out to me on a first read are:

  • The proposed budget for 2021-22 is $5,782,250.
  • The budget for their Electronic Communications section gets a 20% cut, to $2,710,925.
  • If I’m reading it right, their Electricity section gets a 13% increased budget to $2,482,000.
  • They appear to be recommending no increases in fees.
  • It notes their intention to ‘undertake significant Electricity and Electronic Communications sector related projects.’
  • It is noted that the RA has a total of 22 authorised positions, of which there are 2 vacancies. However, they note they are not actively recruiting for those positions at the moment.
  • It notes the impact of covid-19 both on the island’s economy but also on changed communication needs. In particular, it states that the RA will invest in some new communications initiatives as a result: (1) Digital Date Analytics to better understand the consumer online experience; and (2) A Consumer Focused Website – basically they will redevelop the RA website.
  • RFPs for solar procurement are in the works, with 2023 cited as date of commissioning.
  • Further retail tariff review to establish a 3-year tariff period to be conducted.
  • The first steps in the next IRP process to be started.
  • The first phase of a wind pre-feasibility study to be commenced.
  • Significant Market Power (SMP) Remedy Implementation to be set up by general determination.
  • Annual market analysis of the electronic communications sector to be conducted.
  • To encourage competition in the electronic communications sector, the RA will conduct its annual Integrated Communication Operating Licensing process.
  • The RA will also conduct its ongoing spectrum assignment licensing process.
  • It notes that the RA board is composed of 5 Commissioners. $396,000 is budgeted for Commissioners pay in 2021-22 (this equals $79,200 per Commissioner).
  • With 20 filled positions, $3,264,000 is budgeted for salaries (it is not clear if this is inclusive of the 2 vacant positions).
  • There is a budget for consulting services of $1,184,000 (split between Electric Communications at $435,000 and Electricity at $749,000).
  • Consulting services for Electric Communications has been reduced by 43% ($328,600) from 2020-21 as they have increased internal capacity.
  • Operating costs for Electric Communications has decreased by 60% ($239,575) from 2020-21 due to reductions in budgets for litigation and mediation.
  • The Commissioners salaries (honoraria) per their share from Electronic Communications is reduced by 27% ($72,000) from 2020-21 (but this is under discussion by the current Commissioners).
  • There is a 194% ($494,000) increase in consulting budget for Electricity for 2021-22 – the reason given is primarily due to projects required to implement the Comprehensive Retail Tariff and the solar procurement process.
  • There is a decrease of 63% ($203,175) for operating costs for Electricity, due to reduced need for litigation and mediation.
  • As with the Commissioners honoraria for Electric Communications, they also see a 27% ($72,000) decrease from their share from Electricity.
  • So, basically, in 2020-21 the Commissioners had a budget of $540,000, or $108,000 per Commissioner. As such, their monthly honoraria is proposed to decrease from $9,000 to $6,000. It should be stressed that the Commissioners are reported to be unhappy with this proposal. However, the Government has insisted that this is non-negotiable.

For more on their budget, if you don’t want to review the primary source, see this article from the RG.

Direct Rule?

With the recent revelations concerning the City’s waterfront, there have been some calls on social media for some sort of Turks & Caicos model, where the UK Government dissolves the colonial legislature and declares direct rule by the Governor in order to make various ‘reforms’.

I can see the attraction of this – it plays on the feeling that our indigenous abilities have fallen short, under the PLP and now the OBA and that our indigenous institutions are not fit for purpose.  It plays on the sensation that we’ve proven our inferiority and it’s time for the colonial ‘mother’ to come in, clean house, put things back in order and set things up so we can start again.

I get that.  And I don’t disagree that our institutions, especially our political ones, are not fit for purpose.  However, I don’t agree that the recourse to that is to surrender our democracy and allow direct imperial rule – especially when these very failing institutions are themselves a product of our colonialism.

This isn’t simply about the fact that the UK Government is beholden to the City of London, a direct rival of Bermuda in terms of our main economic sector of IB.  This is much more basic about the question of democratic principle.

If our institutions are failing, we have the power to critically analyse them and either fix them or replace them with more effective institutions for our local context.

If our politicians are guilty of corruption we have the capacity to address that within our framework – and that includes introducing and enforcing new legislation that better deals with corruption, of which campaign finance laws are perhaps the most important right now. And if our parliamentarians refuse to act, the people can apply pressure to ensure they do so – or take action to replace them.

I don’t have a problem at all with serving Ministers and MPs being arrested and facing trial in the event of allegations being made warranting such (and there’s a case for improving our laws to avoid a repeat of the ‘unethical but not illegal’ farce – unethical only because our laws were outdated).  Our democracy can handle that.  It may need some by-elections.  It may lead to a no confidence vote in the Government.  It may lead to an early election or a change of Government by other means (a handful of by-elections or defections could have the same effect).

The Parliamentary Mace is the symbol of power, loaned to parliament by the people.

The Parliamentary Mace is the symbol of power, loaned to parliament by the people.

That’s okay.  Our democracy can handle that.  Our people can handle that.  We don’t need direct rule, we don’t need imperial ‘rescuing’.

Any such move towards imperial rule sets back whatever steps we’ve taken towards democracy, it brings us back to ‘year zero’ rather than advancing our capacities.  It would be a hostile act – it is something to be resisted.  And I am confident that it will, indeed, be resisted, by Bermudians on island and off.

Will it be welcomed by some?  Sure.  Partly out of exasperation, partly out of a belief that it would allow for horsetrading and a lighter reckoning than if we ensure local accountability.

I understand the calls for a T&C solution.  But it disappoints me that some are so quick to forfeit their own abilities and sell short our indigenous capacities.  We can solve our own problems provided we believe in ourselves and rule out the nuclear option of imperial dictatorship.

Power belongs to the people.  It flows from the people.

It does not reside in Government or with the imperial center.  They only have power should we grant it to them, but that mandate can be revoked, and the power of the people can be used to correct the institutional failures of our island.  It can also be used to confront moves towards imperial rule.

If the people judge that the power lent to the OBA on December 17th 2012 has been abused, the people have the ability – and perhaps the moral duty – to reclaim that power, not to forfeit their abilities and surrender it to imperial diktat.

Carnival & Pomp – Revolutionary & Counter-revolutionary?

This post follows on from an earlier post, and seeks to answer the question with which that one ended:

Are any of these spectacles (Gombey’s, Pomp or Carnival) ‘revolutionary’ or ‘counter-revolutionary’ (or have such potential), and what is meant by such anyway?

In order to answer the main question (are any of these spectacles revolutionary or counter-revolutionary), one must first answer what is meant by these terms in the first place.

Revolutionary & Counter-Revolutionary Theory

In my earlier post I quoted, at length, an extract from a work by David Harvey. In one of his key works (if not the one that made his name), Social Justice & the City, he actually provides a useful review of these terms (in relation to theory).

I won’t quote him in his entirety (he devotes a whole chapter to it, and the themes run through the entire book), only the most concise extract that I can find, from his ‘further comment’ section of the chapter ‘Revolutionary and Counter-Revolutionary Theory’:

There are three kinds of theory:

(i) Status quo theory – a theory which is grounded in the reality it seeks to portray and which accurately represents the phenomena with which it deals at a particular moment in time. But, by having ascribed a universal truth status to the propositions it contains, it is capable of yielding prescriptive policies which can result only in the perpetuation of the status quo.

(ii) Counter-revolutionary theory – a theory which may or may not appear grounded in the reality it seeks to portray, but which obscures, be-clouds and generally obfuscates (either by design or accident) our ability to comprehend that reality. Such a theory is usually attractive and hence gains general currency because it is logically coherent, easily manipulable, aesthetically appealing, or just new or fashionable; but it is in some way quite divorced from the reality it purports to represent. A counter-revolutionary theory automatically frustrates either the creation or the implementation of viable policies. It is therefore a perfect device for non-decision making, for it diverts attention from fundamental issues to superficial or non-existent issues. It can also function as spurious support and legitimisation for counter-revolutionary actions designed to frustrate needed change.

(iii) Revolutionary theory – a theory which is firmly grounded in the reality it seeks to represent, the individual propositions of which are ascribed a contingent truth status (they are in the process of becoming true or false dependent upon the circumstances). A revolutionary theory is dialectically formulated and it can encompass conflict and contradiction within itself. A revolutionary theory offers real choices for future moments in the social process by identifying immanent choices in an existing situation. The implementation of these choices serves to validate the theory and to provide the grounds for the formulation of new theory. A revolutionary theory consequently holds out the prospect for creating truth rather than finding it.

Also relevant is the subsequent passage:

A theoretical formulation can be, as circumstances change and depending upon its application, move or be moved from one category to another. This suggests two dangers which must be avoided:

(i) Counter-revolutionary co-optation – the pervesion of a theory from a revolutionary to a counter-revolutionary state.

(ii) Counter-revolutionary stagnations – the stagnation of a revolutionary theory through failure to reformulate it in the light of new circumstances and situations – by this means a revolutionary theory may become a status quo theory.

But there are also two important revolutionary tasks:

(iii) Revolutionary negation – taking counter-revolutionary theory and exposing it for what it really is.

(iv) Revolutionary reformulation – taking status quo or counter-revolutionary formulations, setting them into motion or providing them with real content, and using them to identify real choices immanent in the present.

Revolutionary & Counter-Revolutionary Spectacles?

How might this be applied to the question of spectacle, specifically as it relates to those of Gombey’s, Carnival and (military, including majorettes) parades?

Obviously the above extract addresses theory rather than spectacle, and it’s not possible to directly force it to apply to spectacle – although it provides some insights and directions.

One could propose:

1) Status quo spectacles – these seek to maintain order, to perpetuate continuity. To reinforce the status quo as, well, the status quo. 

2) Counter-revolutionary spectacles – these either celebrate (and so reinforce) power against any perceived threat, to underline the superiority of the power and State against the threat (say, for example, a military parade celebrating the suppression of a slave revolt or the defeat of a strike); or they do not claim to be anything more than spectacle, but generates false consciousness (a diversion of focus away from revolutionary tasks/criticism) or serves as a social ‘release valve’ for social pressures that might otherwise find their manifestation through revolution.

3) Revolutionary spectacle – these directly challenge the status quo and propose a potential rupture from the status quo; they propose an alternative vision and build the capacity for revolution (through developing consciousness and/or demonstrating the power of ‘the people’ to act for themselves).

Application in the Bermuda Context

Gombey’s and carnival originate as revolutionary spectacles, more or less. They upended social convention, defied formal power and the State. But was the carnival wholly revolutionary, or was it perhaps also counter-revolutionary – or even both at the same time? In as much as the carnival originates as a social convention via the Church (albeit one ‘hijacked’ and adapted by the same social pressures from which the Gombey’s orginate) – in as much as carnival was tolerated – can it not be seen as a social ‘release valve’ form of spectacle, and thus counter-revolutionary, as spectacles go?

The more formal spectacles of Bermuda’s calendar – May 24 parade, Peppercorn ceremony, Queen’s Birthday parade, other military parades, even the Ag Show – all these are essentially ‘status quo’ spectacles, even if some originate more as counter-revolutionary spectacles (primarily the military ones, and those more obvious tied to power and the State, such as the Queen’s Birthday parade).

Are Gombey’s and Carnival still revolutionary? I argued in my previous post that they are not. At least not wholly. Where they subject to counter-revolutionary co-optation or counter-revolutionary stagnation? Without a detailed historical analysis of either phenomena it is impossible to give a definitive answer now – however it seems clear they have transformed away from revolutionary spectacle and, at the very least become status quo spectacle. In some instances – or arguably – they could indeed be seen as counter-revolutionary spectacles.

Carnival

It seems fair to say that Carnival at least is more about commercialism than the revolutionary rupture it initially threatened. Yes, it is ‘a party’ and doesn’t claim to be anything more – but that’s precisely the point, it has lost the revolutionary spirit it once embodied.

Is this the whole truth of the matter? No. Carnaval

Only in the broad, the ‘social’ aspect could it be argued to be the case, to have lost the revolutionary spirit. To the individual – primarily the active participant, but also the active observer – the spectacle can be understood, can be lived, as emancipatory, as a defiant act, as a momentary rupture from the status quo (at multiple levels, racial, class, sexual, gender, age, etc). And this moment – however brief – can be sufficient for the revolutionary transformation of the self, of a development of a consciousness other than that of the status quo, of acceptance of the status quo and a fear of the other.

Carnival may serve as a social release – and as such in a counter-revolutionary way – and Gombey’s may be a neutered caricature of their original defiantly revolutionary origin, but they both retain the potential for revolution. This may begin at the individual level, but the potential exists for sufficient individual ‘revolutionary moments/transformations’ to reach a critical mass and reassert the revolutionary potential they first manifested.

Of course, the revolutionary spectacles of ‘people power’, of the strike, of the demonstration, of the popular occupation and – ultimately – the revolutonary seizure of power itself, retain their revolutionary spirit, and remain the most potent vehicle for consciousness and revolutionary change.

For clarity, none of this is an attack on the introduction of carnival in Bermuda, or the organisers or their intent. That it was attacked by representatives of the ‘church’ indicates that the revolutionary threat to the establishment, the status quo, remains, and it was that criticism which got me thinking of the question of spectacle, and what social meaning or potential could emerge from the introduction of carnival in Bermuda.

Can carnival in Bermuda be an agent of social change? Yes.

Could that social change be revolutionary? Yes. However it can also be an agent of only superficial change, just as much as an agent for revolutionary change.

The question is what kind of change one wants, and after deciding that, after bringing it into awareness, does that change how one experiences and approaches carnival?

Similarly, does such a theorising of the spectacle that is the Gombey’s serve as a step to reclaiming their revolutionary potential, reclaiming it away from their Disneyfication?

 

 

 

‘Carnaval’ & Pomp – Or spectacle, revolutionary and counter-revolutionary?

Spectacle, Carnival & Pomp

I was reflecting a bit more last night about my post on Lefebvre’s ‘for and against the street’ in relation to the matter of carnival and the controversy around it.  I kept remembering a line from a book I’d read but couldn’t remember all of it or what the book was – fortunately it came to me over breakfast like a kiskadee’s call hits when feeling moldy…

It’s a bit from David Harvey’s interesting ‘Paris, Capital of Modernity‘, from the chapter Consumerism, Spectacle and Leisure, discussing the Belleville Carnaval; here’s the relevant extract:

Spectacle, even that of the city itself, has always been fundamental to urban life, and its political aspects have long played an important role in the construction of legitimacy and social control. There had been no lack of spectacle under the July Monarchy, but much of it escaped social control by the authorities. Sunday excursions took the workers outside the city limits to the bars and dance halls of places like Belleville, culminating in a ribald and riotous evening descent back into the city center.  The fear lurked that spectacle of this sort could all too easily lead to riot and revolution. This was particularly true of the Carnaval in the week preceding Lent during the 1840s, characterised as ‘the last, exuberant fling of pre-industrial theater of excess which cut hard against the nascent ideologies of the metropolitan city.’ The ‘promiscuous mixing and reversals’, the cross-dressing, the temporary loss of class distinctions, threatened the social order. Carnaval ‘too rudely mocked the careful modulations between spectacle and urban menace staked out across the city. In making gestures, looks and appearances both more explicit and more explicitly counterfeit, in mixing them pell-mell as if no ill would come of the brew, it called the bluff of the Boulevard des Italiens, the Chaussee d’Antin’. The authorities and those bourgeois who were not drawn into the frenzy were fearful and horrified.  The macabre carnavelesque way in which the the bodies of those shot down on the Boulevard des Capucines on that February evening of 1848 were paraded around the city as an incitement to revolution drew upon such traditions. This, then, was what the socially controlled spectacles of the Second Empire set out to displace. The aim was to transform active players into passive spectators. The Belleville Carnaval declined during the Second Empire through a mix of displacement, active repression, and administrative shifts (such as the incorporation of Belleville into the city through the annexation of 1860). The troublesome image of ‘the descent from Belleville’ remained, however, and when it was finally resurrected in the late 1860s, it was with the clear intent of ending Empire and making revolution.

But Second Empire spectacle went far beyond imperial pomp. To begin with, it sought directly to celebrate the birth of the modern. This was particularly true of the Universal Expositions. These were, as Benjamin remarks, ‘places of pilgrimage to the fetish Commodity’, occasions on which ‘the phantasmagoria of capitalist culture attained its most radiant unfurling’. But they were also celebrations of modern technologies. In many respects, imperial spectacle dovetailed neatly with commodification and the deepening power of the circulation of capital over daily life. The new boulevards, besides generating employment, facilitated circulation of commodities, money, and people. The expositions drew massive crowds from the provinces and from abroad, stimulating consumer demand. And all those spectacles took skill, labour, commodities, and money to mount. The stimulus to the economy was therefore considerable.

Initial Thoughts

From a Bermudian perspective – and ignoring the wider concepts of ‘spectacle’ – my mind here automatically goes to thoughts of the contrast between Gombey’s (and the more recent introduction of ‘carnival’) and our military parades (and an argument could be made that our majorette troops fall within the wider field of ‘military’ parade, in their uniforms and regimented orchestration).

One embodies elements of the ‘wild’, the ‘unknown’, ‘chaos’ and a departure from social norms – the Gombey’s in particular include the aspects of anonymity and a defiant celebration of the sub-altern African and First Nations heritage of our people – sub-altern in relation to the European aspects of our society which is de facto normative and dominant in terms of cultural expression. The Gombey’s are our original form of the ‘carnival’, augmented now with the introduction of a carnival proper (though divorced from the religious time-table in our case, where Catholicism has never been dominant and unable to support a more traditional carnival system to date).

The other embodies ‘order’, ‘regimentation’, ‘discipline’ (not that the Gombey’s do not require discipline, but it is of another form) and is general a spectacle of pomp, a celebration of power and the State.

Of course in Bermuda the two have somewhat lost their original impulses – although the loss is greater for the Gombey’s and (from it’s inception) carnival.  Our ‘pomp’ is less about a demonstration of power and the State as it is a manufactured production for tourism (as well as simply ‘tradition’). It does, however, retain the role of demonstrating power and the State all the same. The Gombey’s – and now carnival – are less a defiance of power and the State today, and are more a tourist and/or entertainment production, while retaining the element of ‘tradition’.  But it’s more revolutionary potential, it’s defiance, has been neutered for the most part. It’s edge has been lost in accordance with its acceptance – its co-optation – by capital and the State.

‘Cyborg’ Carnivals?

Carnival itself, is, in Bermuda’s case, wholly manufactured.

Whereas our sister islands far to the south have a carnival rooted in the Catholic tradition (like that described by Harvey above), which combined with the same elements of defiance (to slavery, to White supremacy, to power, to the State) of which the Gombey’s originate to create the potentially revolutionary carnival spectacle, we did not have such a tradition. Catholicism has always been dominated here by Anglicanism, and Bermuda has not changed hands between Catholic and Anglican powers (and thus retained ‘Catholic’ traits) – we’ve been Anglican dominated since inception, with dissenters exiled or suppressed.

Bermuda’s carnival is novel, wholly manufactured, by Bermudians who have experienced carnival to our south and yearned for its replication, its reproduction, in the Bermudian context. Our carnival is not organic – it is artificial. And essentially designed from a business plan, for the sake of consumption, of creating an event. This does not mean that it is not possible of becoming a ‘cyborg’, of incorporating and becoming partially organic ‘of the people’ in time – and may already have done so with its inception.

This is not a criticism of our carnival, merely an observation, that our carnival is manufactured, is artificial, can only ever aspire to become a cyborg. It is divorced – at its birth – from the organic revolutionary character of its inspiration, and retains the ‘revolutionary’ aspect more in superficial form than historical connection. Although revolutionary – and organic – potential can accrue to it all the same, over time.

Revo or Contra?

Which brings to question whether any of these spectacles can be seen as revolutionary or counter-revolutionary (and what is meant by these terms anyway)?

For space considerations I’ll continue this as a second post.

Tropical Storm Fay

Surprised and Concerned

While I’m currently off-island, I doubt I’m the only one that’s been surprised at the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Fay to the island.

Bermuda would normally laugh off a tropical storm, and while some damage could indeed have been prevented if people had taken more serious preparations – like we usually do for hurricanes, but not always for tropical storms – the damage to vegetation around the island is testament to this storm having been far more powerful than initial expectations.

Remember Fabian? An AP file aerial photo of the Causeway after Fabian.

Remember Fabian? An AP file aerial photo of the Causeway after Fabian.

The PLP has raised the question about whether the Government was properly prepared for this storm.

While there will be many who will criticise the Opposition for – as they may see it – making politics out of this storm, I personally think they are acting as per their constitutional responsibilities, of holding the Government to account and hoping that their criticism will ensure better preparation going forward, especially with Gonzalo on the horizon.

Fay Questions

I do think questions need to be asked about the Government’s preparation regarding this storm.

Going solely by the RG articles in the immediate aftermath of the storm the impression given was that:

  • Both the Premier and Deputy Premier were off island immediately before and after the storm.
  • The Acting Premier, Minister Moniz (the AG) indicated that the Emergency Measures Organisation (EMO) was not embodied in advance of the storm and for the duration of the storm – indeed, the reports indicate the EMO was only convened on Sunday afternoon, delaying a full-scale organised response to the storm.
  • It’s not clear to what degree the Regiment was involved in the initial preparation for the storm – although they were eventually partially embodied following the EMO meeting on Sunday afternoon, it’s not clear to what degree the Regiment had emergency response teams in place before and during the storm.
  • A full embodiment of the Regiment still does not appear to be in place, despite ongoing concerns about debris post-storm and in preparation for a potential hit by Gonzalo in the next few days.

Fabian Expectations

I think that after Fabian, most of us expected that the following was now the situation in the event of Bermuda having a strong probability of being impacted by tropical weather:

  • The EMO to be set up 24 hours in advance of the storm event, and in place for the entire duration of the storm, until the EMO deciding that a state of relative normality has returned.
  • The Regiment to be partially embodied (100-200 soldiers) in advance (24 hours) of the storm event, with squads based mainly at Warwick Camp, but also at the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre in the East End, and somewhere in the West End (say Port Royal Fire Station or Dockyard).  Another unit could, arguably, be based at the Botanical Gardens in order to facilitate access to the hospital immediately.  This would allow a more rapid deployment of forces (as well as emergency assistance during the storm), ensuring quicker clearing up operations – and facilitating a full deployment if warranted.

It’s hard to knock the Government here, as it was a tropical storm and not a hurricane, and, of course, the priority right now is on post-storm operations and preparations for Gonzalo.

However, a post-mortem of how Fay was handled should be done – and I’d expect such to be standard – in order to learn from it and improve for the future.  The PLP is right to raise issues along those lines, and the Government, once the immediate situation (and Gonzalo) are over, the post-mortem should be transparent and public.

Other Fay Notes

There’s a few additional thoughts that I think this storm has raised:

  • This storm has been a catastrophe for our already struggling agricultural sector.  As such, it helps highlights the challenges to this sector in Bermuda, which has importance far beyond the simple provision of food.  Local agriculture impacts the ‘Bermuda image’ (important both for tourism and our quality of life), labour (an alternative to tourism and IB), biodiversity (key ecological niches), self-sufficiency, reducing the flow of money out of Bermuda (for food imports) and reducing carbon footprints (from imports) – and no doubt additional issues.  Bermuda needs a national agricultural plan (I believe such was proposed, but I haven’t heard much since), seeking to improve and expand local agriculture.  This will need to include such issues (among others) as organic standards/certification, bulk purchasing, local agricultural research, agricultural apprenticeships and scholarships, rehabilitation of derelict agricultural land, stronger planning protection of agricultural land and greater protection for local produce (such as a carbon tax on imported produce to subsidise the cost of local produce), etc.
  • There remains the need for a new crossing to replace the Causeway.  Work was started on this after Fabian, but put on hold with the advent of the economic crisis in 2008.  With Fay, and now potentially Gonzalo, this needs to be revisited.  The Causeway being destroyed again like in 2003 would be catastrophic for the island.
  • It’s likely this storm will have an impact in the debates relating to ending conscription.  I support the complete demilitarisation of Bermuda (and the disbanding of the Regiment – as proud as I am of my own time as a soldier), provided we put into place something else, some kind of national service, that is able to continue the post-hurricane role for which the Regiment currently really finds its purpose, beyond ceremonial pomp and circumstance.
  • The airport has yet again been severely impacted by a tropical weather event, particularly as regards flooding to the ground floors.  Recently there was a competition for designing a new airport – I hope considerations are made to ensure any new terminal is more robust in this regard.
  • It wasn’t that long ago that heavy rain caused delays to waste collection.  One can easily imagine the impact of Fay and, possibly, Gonzalo, having a similar domino impact in the weeks ahead.  There are also questions that need to be asked about improving our overall waste-collection system, and with memories of the ‘fires of Pembroke’ not that long ago, the sudden increase of organic waste (fallen trees, etc) risk similar problems developing at the Pembroke Dump site.  I’ve suggested a few policies in the past regarding this, such as in-vessel composting there (quicker composting and uses a smaller land area), neighbourhood communal composting programmes and a bottle bill to improve collection of beverage containers.
  • There’s now a risk of public health issues arising from this storm, primarily in terms of mosquitoes and rats – appropriate measures will have to be taken to reduce this.
  • We need to seriously look at a national green infrastructure plan here.  And by that I mean the planting of endemic and natives along roadsides and around critical infrastructure.  These trees are less susceptible (not invincible, just better) to storm damage, and as such could (in the long-term) reduce the impact of these storm events on our transport and critical infrastructures.  Even a linear mangrove planting [pdf] along the Causeway and airport could greatly reduce the impact of storm surges and storm waves on these key infrastructures.

Final Comments!

Apart from all that, check on your neighbours, especially the elderly and those with young children.  Make sure they’re both recovering from Fay and prepared for Gonzalo.

Make sure you’re prepared for Gonzalo itself – consider Fay a friendly reminder on hurricane preparedness.

Stay safe – Bermuda will recover; we can rebuild or replace property and plant new trees.  We can’t replace you.

For me, I’m hoping to return to the island imminently, however Gonzalo risks affecting that plan…