Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 29th 2015 Contents Jamaica has sold out to the Chinese
in a last ditch effort to salvage
something from decades of econom-
ic mismanagement and governmental
and societal failure.
Multilateral lenders of repute will not
invest, so the Jamaican government now
follows the Chinese funded US$1.5 bil-
lion post-Panamax capable Goat Island
Container Port, to be built on islands
that are ecologically important and pro-
tected by international treaty with what
is dubbed the "Beijing Highway."
The Jamaican government has traded
1,200 acres of land to a Chinese state-
owned company. In return a US$600
million, four-lane highway, lined by lux-
ury hotels, restaurants and bars will be
Will the Jamaicans get a good deal? It
is doubtful. In Trinidad we had our own
experience with Chinese construction
Many of the Chinese-built projects are
still standing empty or are crumbling,
just like the political reputations of
those who masterminded these projects.
Don t blame China. Blame the govern-
ment that signed off on those projects.
Blame the society that allowed the
politicians to act that way. Politics is us,
after all. Blame us, the people. Can we
The Chinese can build this highway
for TT$3.8 billion for 67 km of 4-lane
motorway. Compare this to the TT$7.5
billion for the Golconda to Point Fortin
Highway, which is 47 km.
You may not agree with the way in
which the highway protest was done.
The no-water, no-food hunger strike
that went on for hundreds of days
harmed the credibility of the environ-
mental movement. However, the under-
lying criticism that the project was not
properly planned or financed is not
diminished. The silent bulldozers along
the route make that blatantly clear.
It looks like the highway will remain
unfinished for many years to come.
Most environmental concerns can be
reduced to good governance vs bad gov-
ernance. When you practice bad gover-
nance the result is going to be that out-
siders will come and do your business
for you: IMF, the World Bank, the Chi-
T&T, we must insist on best practice
Many people wanted the highway to
be built regardless of the cost. They
had, and still have, valid complaints that
the commute takes too long, that there
is no public transport.
Many who chose for the highway
knew that the planning and financing
was not in order. They knew that the
political elite was being creative in a
way that nobody, of any party, should
ever be when it comes to the Treasury
At the same time they were also will-
ing to brush aside these concerns and
"take a chance," because there is so little
trust in the political class, of any party,
and the civil service, to get these things
done. "If we don t do it now, then it
will never happen, damn the conse-
The result is an unfinished highway,
an empty Treasury and some billions
gone to who-knows-where.
Never forget that the IDB turned
down this project. They said it shouldn t
cost more than T&T$5 billion dollars.
That wasn t enough so our minister of
works then gave the contract to a com-
pany that would build the highway for
more. OAS in Brazil, the bid winner, is
of course now in bankruptcy court after
becoming embroiled in the Petrobras
corruption scandal in that country.
It doesn t look like much has gone
right for any of the players in the Gol-
conda to Point Fortin Highway. Not
least the voters and politicians who put
their faith in "Mr Fix It." He was after
all the man who could get the job done,
regardless of the consequences.
We must always hold our elected offi-
cials to the highest standards. If we
don t, they will use us and abuse us.
Have no doubt about it, a government,
and an opposition, is a reflection of the
people, of the society that it comes
We the people have no idea of how
much power we can have but we must
exercise it responsibly and ceaselessly.
Politicians need to embrace criticism,
and not take everything personally. You
are here to serve the people. Stop
attacking everybody who doesn t agree
with you. Just get the job done in the
best possible way, in accordance with
the law and best practices. Success is
the only way to deal with criticism.
Ole talk is ole talk. Results are all that
matters. If you can t produce results,
then resign and move on. I m not talk-
ing to any former prime minister in par-
Strive towards an inclusive society
based on facts and results. We can pro-
tect the environment and grow our
economy and quality of life in responsi-
ble and sustainable ways, but not if we
make up the rules as we go along.
We love T&T. We must love her
enough to reform our economy, society
and value system so that we will not
have to call in the Chinese to finish our
highway, regardless of the cost.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Ihave been following the issue surrounding the
QPS vendors and I would like to put in my two
Firstly, I have always enjoyed visiting the Savan-
nah to purchase from a wide variety of food and
drinks on offer.
I am all for the vendors making an honest living
and I don't have a problem supporting them since I
found the QPS to be an excellent and spacious
venue for families to bring their children and relax.
It is nice to find places in Trinidad where one can
escape from the stresses of the day and enjoy
quality time with family and friends away from
foul language and other immoral activities that are
usually found in bars etc.
I do hope that the vendors would not be vic-
timised in any way and they have a say at all times
as to any updates on the matter.
If the vendors are to be moved please let them
be relocated to an area that has clean running
water, proper drainage and garbage disposal facili-
ties. There must be security and of course lots of
parking and good toilet facilities.
Mr Mayor of Port-of-Spain, while I understand
your stake in this matter, do note that the QPS is
not the only place with rats. The whole of down-
town PoS is one of the nastiest places in the coun-
try. Governments come and go and nothing has
ever been done to clean the capital of the country.
It is a disgrace and City Gate is beyond filthy with
pigeons all over the place.
So Mr Mayor, you keep harping on the vendors
in the Savannah who want to make an honest liv-
ing but what about cleaning up PoS? What about
the drains close to City Gate that are packed up
Port-of-Spain stink, stink, stink, and Lord have
mercy, when a little bit of rain falls, South Quay is
like a river. Clean Port-of-Spain first, clean the capi-
tal and then focus on the vendors in the QPS.
INSIST ON BEST PRACTICE ALWAYS Capital city a filthy disgrace
MARC DE VERTEUIL
Last week, including the
few days prior to
Christmas, I noticed a
much larger than usual
number of Jehovah Wit-
nesses who encouraged
passers-by to partake of
their Awake! and Watch-
tower publications in my
I learnt the hard way, a
few years ago, that JWs
don't observe Christmas
after I innocently offered
one of them I befriended,
a glossy Christmas gift
when she broke the news
that she couldn't accept it
While I admire their
tenacity, discipline and
their profusion in number
this holiday season, I
would like to share a
humble message to them:
just as you prefer to be
respected as non-Christ-
mas celebrators, so too,
kindly respect those of us
who look forward to
Please don't impose
your choice to not be a
yuletider on those who
prefer. Stay blessed.
Christmas cheer preferred
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