Is daylight savings actually saving anything or is it just an utter waste of time?
The ongoing debate about the pros and cons of daylight savings, nine years after the Government introduced it, is healthy. While it might sound annoying at times, the fact people are concerned enough to be talking about it shows it’s important to them.
Which means the Government would do very well to listen. In fact they should commission a review of the entire initiative.
For one thing, views are divided across the country on whether we should persist with it. There are people who support it for various reasons and that’s fine; this is a free country after all.
But then there are others who don’t. And judging from most accounts we’ve heard so far, it appears daylight savings is something these people believe we can do without.
From where we stand, socially, economically and spiritually, we have yet to see a completely convincing argument for daylight savings.
But then that’s because up until this point, there has been none. No comprehensive study has ever been in done into its pros and cons, especially in Samoa. Which is why we need one.
The truth is that daylight savings is necessary in countries where there are four seasons. They need to otherwise people living there are shortchanged of daylight hours, one way or another. Here in Samoa, is daylight savings necessary?
According to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, the answer is yes. They argued that farmers needed more daylight hours to do their work. They also argued that by reducing nighttime hours, savings can be made on electricity and money. Fair point.
Has that been achieved? Who knows?
What we do know, and this is from experience during the past couple of days when our clocks were moved an hour forward is that many problems associated with daylight savings stem from sleep deprivation. The simple fact is that more daylight hours mean less sleep time.
We can probably hazard a guess that the average Samoan now goes to bed between 10.30pm and 11pm. That includes many children who will have to rise well before 6am so they can get ready and catch the first bus if they want to arrive at school on time.
Sleep deprivation also has an enormous impact on the workforce. It’s fair to say most offices throughout the country struggled with people arriving to work on time yesterday. It’s something that will probably continue throughout this week as people try to readjust their body clocks.
But there is more here you see; less rest means people make more mistakes. And the knock on effects is endless. Think of the traffic crashes, workplace accidents, lower productivity and so forth.
Again, these are observations we can safely make from experience. But a detailed review will give us a better picture and will allow the Government to make a much more informed decision about it moving forward.
On Sunday in the Sunday Samoan, Economist and politician, Afualo Dr. Wood Salele, made some interesting points. He said he was not convinced that the time change has benefited Samoa's economy.
“It seems [impacts are mainly] from [the] social side – there is more leisure time for people,” he said. “Government did intend that daylight saving is for people to be productive in terms of economic activities (like going to plantation after work) but it seems like a reversal of that.
“There is just more time for people to socialise and it defeats the whole purpose of why we had it in the first place.”
He’s got a point but again without a detailed review, we cannot prove that.
Interestingly, a survey conducted by the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour in 2018 shows 55 per cent of the public were in favour of daylight savings.
“Their main reason for supporting this activity is due to the longer hours of the afternoon for guests to socialise in restaurants, more clients and also beneficial with extra time for sports activities," the research found.
And that is understandable. More time for leisurely activities is probably the only benefit that clearly stands out.
As part of the debate, a school Security Guard raised a critical issue last week when he said daylight savings was making the early morning journey to school unsafe for female students.
“I worry about this,” said Uli Taalolo. “I’m witnessing every morning the danger of letting our children come to school when it’s dark especially when they come by themselves.
“I’m expressing this so the Government would have some consideration on this matter as it’s a concern not only for me but also some other parents as well I believe.”
We couldn’t agree more with Mr. Taalolo. What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us. Have a wonderful Tuesday Samoa, God bless!