We have to wonder what people working for government agencies think their job is.
Is it to help people in need or to wring their hands and say, "Sorry, we don't know what to do," or "Sorry, we cannot do anything"?
Farmers in the southern province of Dong Nai were faced with this wringing of hands recently.
Over 80 tons of fish have died from pollution of the Dong Nai River since early this month, but so far, local agencies are yet to identify the culprits, and in fact, are saying they cannot do so.
In a report to the provincial authorities on June 21, the Dong Nai Department of Natural Resources and Environment said wastewater discharged into the Dong Nai River by households and the Bien Hoa Industrial Zone No.1 had killed the fish.
The department said it was not easy to trace the wrongdoer given that the river received wastewater from multiple sources.
However, affected residents were not ready to accept this excuse and took matters into their own hands. They began collecting evidence by themselves.
Nguyen Duc Can, a representative of farmers breeding fish in cages in the Dong Nai River in Thong Nhat Ward, said on June 24 that he and some other local residents found the water foamy and stinking on a section of the river. They followed the stench and found untreated wastewater being discharged by the Tan Mai Paper Factory.
They filmed the discharge of wastewater and took samples for testing with the help of a student of the Ho Chi Minh City Nong Lam University who was working as an apprentice in the neighborhood.
A lab in HCMC has agreed to test the farmers' samples and will release results next week, Can said.
"If tests conclude that the Tan Mai Paper Factory's wastewater killed our fish, we'll fight for compensation to the bitter end," he added.
Isn't it unreasonable that management agencies with specialized equipment and experts leave the job for farmers to do? Farmers who have already suffered heavy losses?
Government agencies should lend a strong helping hand to those in distress, not leave them in the lurch to fend for themselves.