Written by Efren G. Mañez
When people talk about the nation’s main growth engine, it is a no-brainer to most who would instinctively envisage a countryside that is dotted with the humming state-of-the art infrastructures and whatever conceivable enhancing commercial amenities there are. By common perception, what would mainly comprise the umbrella infrastructural growth engine will add in, among others, the well-gridded mega capacity power stations, huge industrial installations; transport fleets and the communication systems’ air, land, and sea superhighways; and business center skyscrapers. How can anyone fairly refute such a lofty vision or impression which, undoubtedly, packs the Archimedean buoyant effect on economic growth and which is, in actual fact, the trite rehash of the litanies and rallying call by nearly all the trade and industry leaders, prime movers, technocrats, and visionaries. Accordingly, the natural prompting and exhortation within the better informed community circles – representing the nation’s voice – is to “build them all”. This ‘go and move forward’ aspiration, by most standards, is an enduring central collective pursuit by nearly every earth’s sovereign nation. This is regardless of the individual economic standing but, of course, the affluent and progressive ones are much more in the better position to put their money where their mouthed strategic policy is. Those belonging to the third world and developing sorts, perchance, despite possessing no manner of adequate means, will continue to aim and struggle.
But by uncomplicated interpretation, does the statement “build them all”- pithy but indubitably powerful as it may- substantially map and lead to the main road for the projected or envisioned culminating destination? Well, the answer is a dichotomy of yes and no. It is a yes, in the sense that by building the physical growth engines, a nation is made much poised to auspiciously take-off. On the other hand, it is also a no in the sense that mere building does not entirely translate to nor highly guaranty a nation’s growth- a sustained one for that matter. There is definitely an inadvertent omission of a qualifying element here, notwithstanding the largely truistic statement. But suppose we rearticulate it into something like this: “build (engineer) them all real good and, much equally important, is not to forget to use, operate, and maintain them consistently real well”. Does that make the statement much more dynamic and empowered to turn the political catchphrase ‘growth engines’ into the much more potent and perennial growth factors? Sounds more like it? A resounding yes! And by which we are much more inclined in technically believing so. Indeed, for what beneficial uses are these built mammoth growth factors when their vital structures and machinery start to fail miserably and crumble even before long? When, finally, they are unable to sustain or continue to deliver their intended goods or service and to the far-reaching detriment of the nation and its investors’ capital investments and expected returns – not to mention the collateral losses? And the tragedy we can, on hindsight, trace from the shortsightedness in prudently projecting the growth vision enthusiasm from the initial fixed-period-point ’ A ‘ which is the infrastructures’ building/engineering phase; to the protracted and indefinite period- point ‘ B ‘ which is the infrastructures’ sustained effective use, operation, and maintenance phase through apt and sound upkeep programs. Protracted serious shortfalls on the latter can and will grimly turn instead the by now commissioned and towering infrastructure projects into the conspiracy of dense millstones that are metaphorically roped around the neck of the bound-to-be drowned sponsor nation and investors. And they are probably the same ones who, unfortunately, in the beginning extolled and sang ‘point A’ resoundingly to high heavens but altogether missed out, myopically, on point ‘B’.
In real life scenario, we hear and read worldwide reports of disasters of unprecedented catastrophic proportions being the direct or indirect result of the blatant inattention and disregard of the global standards and accepted best practices concerning the management of the installed plants/facilities. These are the normally preventable man-made disasters which undoubtedly exacted heavy toll in terms of human lives, irreversible damage to the Mother Nature; and huge loss in capital resources, economic opportunity, and national prestige. And more of these catastrophic sorts are seen to be exacted still, if serious industrial-maintenance operation protocols are continuously ignored. Those mainly responsible (or aptly put, the irresponsible) will naturally have to face sanctions as theirs constitute the acts which are inimical and violative of the instituted legal regulatory statutes/laws; engineering codes, and standards; and including those international conventions in the matter of facility, safety, and environmental management.
The gist of this piece is to offer ample light and hindsight on the burning need for the re-discovery of a truly growth oriented philosophy to one that fundamentally completes an incomplete approach, as earlier pointed out, if only to strategically realize and uphold the vital growth vision.