The “Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa” will finally roll into Dili this coming Thursday (17/07) for a week long conference between countries with a shared Portuguese language. No doubt, the elite that attend this conference will at some point have to drive past the many renovated parks, public areas and repaired roads that have been fixed in anticipation for this conference.
But at what cost has this come for the common person in Dili?
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Any person living in Dili has no doubt seen the debris, rubble and dust, that has made the city seem more like a construction site than the Capital City for the past few months leading up to this event. This has caused much frustration and anger from many people unable to access areas they could in the past or from motorists stuck in traffic jams worse than ever before. Many businesses as well have been affected from the construction, due to reduced traffic from road blocks and detours as well as the constant power cuts that are reducing their ability to do business. We ourselves at Fundasaun Mahein, along with everyone else in Balide, have had to endure daily power cuts that go for four hours on average, leaving us unable to continue our work during this time.
Fundasaun Mahein also questions the validity of some of the measures done to prepare Dili for the CPLP conference. Some of these measures, such as creating a park in the middle of a busy roundabout, seem to have very little practical use and don’t justify the months of traffic jams necessary to build them.
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Other measures, such as moving markets from their established spots, have had a very real effect on peoples economic livelihoods, done so the elite ministers don’t get bothered at the sight of people trying to make a living.
These preparations for the CPLP have clearly had an impact on the economic security of the many people living in Dili while we here at Fundasaun Mahein are becoming more alarmed that the ongoing haphazard construction is affecting human security as well. We see this everyday with the dust that can cause respiratory health issues, with the rocks strewn on the road that have the potential to fly up and hit unsuspecting pedestrians, and with the careless work done by construction crews. Just last Sunday (13/07) a report came to FM of a one year old baby being hit and killed by a construction vehicle just behind the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Fundasaun Mahein also questions the wisdom of bringing in a large amount police officers in from the districts to provide security for the CPLP, leaving many districts understaffed with security personnel. Do the ordinary people in the districts not deserve as much security as the Elite ministers attending the CPLP?
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Fundasaun Mahein fully understands that in order for Timor-Leste to become a vibrant prosperous nation these development projects need to happen, however we believe that it is for the ordinary people these developments need to happen instead of being done to impress some elite foreign ministers who have only come for a week long conference.
We hope that after the Conference the government will be able to continue its effort in developing Dili, for the people of Dili, in a safe planned manner done with a minimum of inconvenience for its people.