Tuesday, June 03, 2008
The industrial revolution that started in the late eighteenth century has had such an impact on the life of man that he would have hardly imagined such a level of sophistication he has eventually attained.
Thanks to the rapid increase in knowledge in the subject of science and technology, man has been able to achieve his purpose just by a fraction of the effort, time and money it used to cost before then. The result is such that at our disposal we have all forms of machines that can amplify things that the human brain would normally find too intricate to fathom.
However, as in every sphere of life, every good thing has a bad side about it. Today, we are preoccupied with a massive problem of management of used and outdated products. It follows that this landmark increase in production has however failed to offset the parallel increase in human want at the global level, so that the Western world - Europe, to be precise - where most of these materials are manufactured, is guaranteed of a way out of the problem of dumping. In the pretext of extending hand to the less privileged, the used and outdated stocks are shoved in the hands of the largely unsuspecting people of the so-called developing world.
On our Monday edition we published, on our opinion column, a piece on the effect of certain Western based charitable works; vis-à-vis second hand products. It would be interesting indeed to note that that piece, as critical as it was, represents the view of an insider who genuinely questions the intent of the numerous rallies that find their way to the developing world in the name of helping the poor. Well, the issues this gentleman highlighted represent just a fraction of what prevails across the rest of the continent. The Gambia's is by no means an isolated case.
Mr David Beardsley, a retired UK vehicle engineer, and a Panelist on GRTS' traffic talk show, backed up his argument with key, convincing points, with the advantage of having served in the transport industry of his country for a considerable period of time.
Given his insight in the industry, it is indeed important that we take Mr Beardsley observation serious. Certainly, it is a good thing that people come up with initiatives that aims at raising fund for the development of the deprived masses, but it also important to note that it will be counterproductive to be raising fund from one angle, while contributing to the destruction of society's worth at another angle.
Most materials, especially the second hand ones, find their way to the Gambia with the expressed objective of boosting the development aspiration of the country, but a closer look reveals that in fact the positive value of some of these materials by a large extent outweighs the purpose of these gestures. Simply call it civilized dumping. Yes, in many cases that is the purpose.
From clothing to electrical wares, household decorations, all other forms of vehicles, computers, and the list goes on and on and on; many of these have found their way to the continent simply for the wrong reason. The reason for our suspicion is quite tied to the fact that in most cases these materials are in so bad a condition that they do not stay long in the possession of their new owners.
We have reached a stage where African leaders should look into the issue, putting general interest at the fore. Whether they are vehicles or not; whether they come free of charge or not, their suitability, with regards to the safety of the people, should be looked into while arranging for importation. There is absolutely no need bringing in a bunch of computers free of charge when its maintenance will cost the beneficiary more than it would as a new one.