Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 12th 2017 Contents opinion A19
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
BOLT method can inance rapid rail
Imust agree with the recent
poll conducted by SBS
which among other things
indicated widespread dis-
satisfaction across wide
cross-sections of the population
on a range of matters including
government's handling of prop-
erty tax, FATCA, CLF and, more
recently, the Tobago ferry iasco.
It is the irst time that I have
seen such chronic bungling,
where everything went wrong but
everyone did everything right be-
cause apparently no one is being
held accountable, not the Minis-
ter, not the CEO, not the board of
the Port Authority.
I must also concur with Dr Win-
ford James that the recent poll
should be a wake-up for the PNM
and indeed for the PM who, ac-
cording to the poll's indings, saw
his popularity rating fall nine per-
centage points from 51 per cent to
42 per cent and even located him
as trailing the Leader of the Oppo-
sition in popularity.
It is not unusual, however, to
see a new government's popu-
larity flag/wane some two years
into of ice, especially given the
spectre of low oil/gas prices and
a revenue reduction of some $20
Given that there are some three
years to run before the next gen-
eral elections fall due there is still
time to recover.
I wish to return, however, to
the issue of traf ic congestion on
the roads especially at peak hours
and its impact on productivity.
Indeed, at the end of the day it
is productivity which will drive
the economy forward, increase
national income and realise eco-
In addition, given the shortages
in foreign exchange earnings, it
will pay the government to post-
pone the import of non-essential
and superfluous items in an effort
to save the outflow of foreign ex-
change, while seeking ways and
means of generating the inflow
If the opportunity cost fore-
gone of the highway to Toco and
the building of a port there is the
construction of the rapid rail to
ease traf ic congestion and in-
crease productivity in the short
to medium term, then, in my re-
spectful view, the rapid rail is the
One must be cognisant, how-
ever, that investor con idence
remains paramount for sustained
economic recovery but given the
strained revenue position at this
time the rapid rail becomes too
There was much controversy
over the Build Own Lease Trans-
fer (BOLT) arrangement between
the THA and a special purpose
company in 2012 in the building
of an admin of ice complex in To-
bago which eventually ended in
litigation in favour of the THA.
But when an entity is strapped
for cash this becomes a strate-
gic method of inancing large
projects, where the developer
takes all the risk, the rents paid
is capitalised to the end of the
lease period towards the payoff
of the property which will be
fully owned by the lessee or party
doing the leasing at the end of the
If the rapid rail could be built
using this method of inancing it
means that this huge capital out-
lay could be deferred to a future
date while enjoying the bene its
of this most important project.
The BOLT method of inanc-
ing has been successfully used
to build the Ministry of Works
head of ice in Port-of-Spain, the
National Library, the UTC head
of ice in Port-of-Spain and a myr-
iad of projects world-wide includ-
ing in Barbados, Grenada, Japan,
China and even in Saudi Arabia.
Hurricanes and illnesses
It's an established fact that
hurricanes named after
women are more dan-
gerous than hurricanes
with male names. Seems
that people simply take
them on less so it's calm before
the storm, but no calm during the
storm and no calm after... for long
The immediate effects of a hur-
ricane (open wound injuries and
deaths due to drowning from flash
flooding, accidents and building
collapse) can be and often are
disastrous, so everyone is under-
standably concerned about these
but the long-term health conse-
quences, both physical and men-
tal, can be equally as bad.
A recent article by my favour-
ite health economist and fellow
paediatrician Aaron E Carroll in
the New York Times on August
31, "The Long-Term Health Con-
sequences of Hurricane Harvey"
documented some of these.
First, communicable gastroin-
testinal and respiratory diseases
spread amid the breakdown in
water sanitation or from the
amount of people crowding into
shelters. Flooding brings the risk
of contamination and disease
like gastro, typhoid and cholera.
When it rains, sewer pipes get in-
iltrated with storm water so both
human and animal faeces gets into
the water supply.
Flood water is contagious and
has to be avoided, especially by
children who love to play in it. If it
is touched, it needs to be washed
off and that is a problem. Where
you getting clean water? Flood
water may not recede for weeks.
Another worry is contamination
from industrial waste and I look
forward to descriptions of poten-
tial toxicity from companies that
occupy the Point Lisas estate.
Various phases of flooding and
storm disasters affect health.
Wounds, poisonings and infec-
tions of the skin appear immedi-
increase some days later. Lep-
tospirosis infections, from rat
contaminated urine and diabe-
tes-related complications can in-
crease after weeks. That last may
puzzle you. People with chronic
conditions like diabetes, cardio-
vascular disease or respiratory
illness are particularly prone to
health problems immediately
after a storm, and their care can
be complicated by lack of nec-
essary medications or access to
Patients with kidney disease
need dialysis two to three times
a week to avoid complications.
Dialysis centres may be unable to
function with all that means.
But hurricanes have longer-term
physical and mental health conse-
quences. Well after the event has
faded as a top news story, victims
continue to suffer.
This is the tragedy of modern
news. If it's not on the booby
screen, it's not happening. Social
media may change this.
After Hurricane Katrina, the
mortality rate in the New Orleans
area was 50 per cent above normal
for up 10 months after the storm.
After one hurricane in Hawaii in
1992, deaths from diabetes went
up in the year after.
Heightened rates of chronic
illnesses can persist in flooded
areas for decades. We don't like to
think of this but mental health al-
ways takes a beating after any nat-
ural disaster. These, too, can last a
long time. We seldom think of this,
but police and other irst-respond-
ers also suffer excessively from
Infants and children are not pro-
tected either from the effects of a
storm. Negative effects on preg-
nant women's physical and men-
tal health and problems associated
with getting to maternity services,
can make pregnancy outcomes
A man-made complication is the
propensity for assisting agencies
to send "milk" to damaged areas.
To save the hungry babies, you
understand. This is dangerous and
associated with gastro outbreaks
and increased mortality among
infants. You need clean water to
mix the formula.
The best thing to send is food
and clothing for the women,
strengthen them so that they can
continue to breastfeed.
It's understandable that every-
one is focused on the immediate
dangers of a hurricane. But Irma's
survivors will need attention and
care far into the future.
We are so lucky we have not
been hit by a hurricane recently.
It's only a matter of time.
Let's hope we have a healthy
government and a healthy Prime
Minister in power when that hap-
Various phases of
flooding and storm
infections of the
Dr David Bratt
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