A day in the life


My early morning routine these days starts outside at the water meter to check whether there is any pressure or not. More often than not the line is dry as water comes our way some days a week, or better some nights a week. If there is no water, what I do next is to check the level of water in the tank. Depending on what I find I begin waking up the family, informing them whether the water situation is green, yellow or red. Green means there is enough water and they are allowed to have a shower, yellow means limited use and you can guess what red means. Now, I am privileged to reside in one of the more modern houses we see built these days, the ground plus one or two type, supplied with an electric pump, which pushes water from the tank at ground level to the rooftop tank. If there is electricity, that is. More often than not there is water in the lower tank and no electricity to pump it up, or there is electricity but no water in the tank. Now, while water comes our way in inconsistent intervals, the interruption of the electricity is worse. From the air, the lighting of the city must look something like a discotheque or the lights of a Christmas tree, coming on and off at different places all the time. While the house is supplied with three phase electricity, instead of losing power completely, quite often we lose one or two phases, never knowing which one remains. It may be the one the water pump is connected to or the phase which supplies the kitchen and refrigerator, or the one which powers the water heater, but it is never the same. Partial or a full power cut aside, the unreliable electricity supply, which seems to get worse, made me invest in a small generator, which proved to be helpful indeed, especially in pumping water and keeping the fridge cool enough to prevent the food from getting bad. Just yesterday I wanted to buy some fuel for the generator and put a jerry can in my car on my way to the fuel station. To my surprise the pump attendant would not fill my jerry can and pointed to a copy of a directive that said that no fuel was to be sold in a jerry can. In other words, nobody using a generator for whatever purpose is able to buy fuel for the generator at the pump anymore and I guess we are now expected to fill up the car first and then suck some out again for the generator.
Now, depending on the status of the water and electricity supply we will somehow get dressed, have breakfast and get ready to go to work, while first dropping off the children at school. Every morning I have to decide or better, take a chance, which route to take, because I am never sure which road is free and which one is closed or jammed as a result of the railway constructions. Somehow we make our way through and arrive at the office. In fact, I had to relocate the office because of the same railway construction as I could no longer explain to clients how to get to my office. A lot of business is lost along the way. The good news is that I found office space in a new building at a good location. This was a good opportunity to install a wireless Internet connection, the speed and accessibility of which is quite impressive, when it works. After a good first week’s start, the Internet now comes on and off like the traffic lights across the street. Also at the office, the power is often interrupted, draining the battery of my laptop. The moment the Internet is back, the battery is empty. Meanwhile I have learned  to walk the stairs instead of taking the elevator, avoiding getting stuck when power fails. It is a good exercise though as we are located at the sixth floor.
It was quite exciting to move into a new office, in a new multi story building and to set up the work stations in a fresh lay out. Slowly, the remaining spaces are rented out to other organizations, companies and shops. It didn’t take long though before the drainage system of the restrooms began to give problems, resulting in blockages, overflow and leakages. To correct the situation the owner of the building had no option but to knock out the restrooms and the drainage system, replacing all pipes and floors, seven stories high. Meanwhile we ended up in a construction site again and I hear such problems occur in other buildings as well.
This all seems exaggerated but it is not. The past few weeks were just like this and people tell me they go through the same motions.
Now, why do we find ourselves in this situation? Why is this so? There are many contributing factors including mediocre planning, skills, capacity, setting priorities, coordination, services, quality and so on. Considering the speed at which this city and other urban centres are growing, I wonder whether or not the bubble is about to burst. Is there a disconnect between the growth and the infrastructure and services that should go with it? Is there a disconnect between planning and implementation? Is there a mismatch between demand and supply, between quantity and quality, between ambitions and delivery? We should seriously look into how to tackle some of the core reasons.
What really impresses me though is the tolerance people show in enduring the conveniences that come their way. In other countries, most issues raised above would be major headline news and reasons for huge damage claims or worse. Somehow we keep seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and know that there are better days to come. It is a sacrifice for a better future and that is a good thing to look forward to.