Chang highlights the bureaucratic requirements to host a ‘Sweet 16’ birthday party for his daughter. Reprinted in part from the Sunday Gleaner, Sunday February 17, 2012)
Egerton Chang, Contributor (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130217/cleisure/cleisure5.html)
My wife and I recently decided to keep a sweet sixteen birthday party for our daughter. This would not be a pay party, as all expenses would be borne by us. Bad idea! For the bureaucracy we encountered would have turned off even the most ardent party thrower.
I thought it would be only proper to inform the police, along with our neighbours. So I wrote a letter to the officer in charge, Liguanea Police Station, informing of our plan and indicating that we undertook to turn off the music at 2 a.m.
My wife was told that the letter was “incorrect”; that wasn’t the way to apply for permission. I must be an idiot, as I didn’t even know that one had to ‘apply for permission’ to keep a house party. Further, she was told that we should have applied a minimum of one month before the intended date. What a party pooper! Even surprise parties would have to be planned at least a month in advance. Chances are that the surprise could not be kept so for that long.
Yet, we were grateful for being given a ‘bly’.
Worse was to come, however. For having been told what form such application should take, typing it and returning to said station, my wife was again told that that was not the way to apply to hold a party.
Only this time, the officer was kind enough to email her the type of letter she should provide. This letter had to include such details as the name of the ‘sounds’ that would be playing, the number invited and state, “Persons will be detailed to work on the road to prevent the blocking of the roadway and to allow the free flow of traffic, and also to prevent the stealing of motor vehicles.”
The next step was to take the letter to the Half-Way Tree Police Station which stamps approval apparently for all such Corporate Area events.
Did I say worse? We were then told of the fee we must pay in order to obtain a permit: $3,500 for a small party and $7,000 for a large one. We weren’t told the line of demarcation, but were ‘fortunate’ to be assessed the lower fee.
So off to the KSAC to pay. This time, she was ‘foolish’ enough to send her sister to pay. Her sister was told, after waiting for some time, that she could not pay on behalf of my wife. My wife had to use her TRN in person.
Another day wasted.
The following day, my wife paid the $3,500.
We are now told that we must return in five working days to collect the precious permit. Why five? Why return? Why is the receipt not the permit? In fact, why couldn’t there be a standard printed form for such application? And why couldn’t the fee be paid at any commercial bank? But those are stupid questions from a self-confessed idiot who is foolish enough to want a party for his daughter’s 16th birthday.
And it doesn’t end there. We are now told to return to the HWT station, with the permit for GOK (God Only Knows) purposes. Seven separate visits for one permit.
What is more disconcerting is that this bureaucracy permeates all sectors, including the private sector.
(For anyone interested, I will email the form of ‘acceptable’ application to hold a party).
Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.