Monday, July 03, 2017

Grenfell Tower Exposed The Lack of Contingency Plans in UK

Grenfell Tower burnt-out imageIn the early morning of Wednesday 14th June, a tragic fire consumed a 24-storey tower block in West London. The stark reality of what followed was the shambolic lack of a contingency plan by local and national governments. And that in itself belittles the regrettable fire incident.

For a country that nags on about the need to 'protect' itself with nuclear weapons amongst other high level conventional weapons, it is rather shameful that the UK government could not coordinate a simple relief process to cushion and ameliorate the cases of the victims of this preventable accident. Instead, what followed was an embarrassing and totally crippled reaction by the government.

At the local government level, where its actions in handling fire safety concerns raised by residents has been much to blame, there was no noticeable response.
But thanks to the communities both local and nation-wide, who made donations of materials, time, money and even their own homes; the local Council was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the local Council invested its energy in defending its shameful actions that might have led to the tragedy. This resulted in victims being left in limbo as if without a government. But it has a government; only that it was an irresponsible one. And shamefully too, it took the local authority close to a week to come up with some haphazard outline to deal with issues like Identity security, banking, benefits, etc.

But where a local government failed so woefully, you'd expect the national government to step in bold and strong, especially in the wake of the general elections just six days prior in which that national government, albeit minority now, ran on a slogan of 'strong and stable'. As it emerges, neither strong nor stable has the national government been in this case nor any other for that matter.

It took the Prime Minister over 24 hours to eventually visit the scene, that is just about 15mins drive from her official residence. And when she did, she avoided meeting any victim, in a shameful act of inglorious leadership for a sitting UK Prime Minister.

Yet, while we can deal with the Prime Minister's lack of humanity, it was her government lack of sensitivity on the urgency required to provide tangible and speedy support that probably exposed the absence of any contingency plans. And this brings shame on our country and raises a question on how prepared is the UK in the event of disaster, national or otherwise.

The UK current Conservatives government instigates the electorates that we need nuclear weapons, what however, it has failed to explain is how in the event of a so-called nuclear attack or bombing of any kind, it will actually attend to the needs of victims. And this is very easy to miss because the government and its fellow weapon-mongers has blindfolded us with the need to 'nuke back' without any thought about victims, whether here or in the place of our nuke-drop. In essence, as we nuke back, our government will just sit and watch victims in our own country die slowly and painfully with no plan of support.

So it is this failure of a valid response that has exposed how totally vulnerable people in this country could be in the event of another or a bona fide disaster. While our emergency services cannot be praised enough for their astute reaction to terrorism or other violent attacks, it is our government that has shown absolute unpreparedness and found wanting in true leadership in responding to a disaster that caused just under a thousand people to become homeless overnight.

As I write this just two days short of 3 weeks to the event, none of the victims of the fire both those who lived in the block or the surrounding buildings, has been properly rehoused. Even worse, some of those in the immediate surrounding are still living without gas supply and other basic utilities.

This level of failure by the government calls for an urgent review of what exactly emergency response is; when it starts, what needs to, should be done and where it ends. A new wholly reliable and practical support services needs to be developed, and strategically located across the 4 nations based on a workable ratio to ensure that should a whole town be impacted, those living within it does not find themselves stranded and reliant on just the goodwill of nearby people to survive while the government do nothing.

Grenfell Tower simply exposed the UK. And I hope, it doesnt take another tragedy like or worse than it, to push us to putting the right plans in place.

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