Protect us from this runaway train
am issuing an appeal to Finance Minister Patrick Manning and
his cabinet to insulate and safeguard the peoples tax
coffers from the squandermania being foisted on unsuspecting
Trinbagonians by Minister of Transport Franklin Khan.
This is the engineer minister who caused to be built an expensive,
quite visible, anti-flooding embankment located east of the
Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway extending from Guayamare River
to Munroe Road, Cunupia. He then inserted cylindrical openings
in the wall to allow the same flood waters, which he wanted
to keep out, to inundate the highway again.
This is the same Works Minister who spent $28 million of our
tax dollars to repave the Piarco runway. The contractor added
tsunami waves in the tarmac. Pilots now have to negotiate
these bumps to avoid damaging their landing gear. To date
no one, including the local paving company, has been held
culpable for wasting our money on shoddy work.
This is the know-it-all minister/chairman of the Peoples
National Movement, smiling all the way to our treasury, who
announced an almost exhaustive network of new roads to connect
the country. He has also issued a unilateral embargo on new
12-seater maxi taxis without any surveys being conducted.
He established a National Infrastructure Co to supervise road
and infrastructure construction, yet proceeds after all of
this to squander $23.9 million of tax dollars to engage the
services of a dubious US company, being investigated by the
FBI, Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas to conduct a National
The Valleys Connector Link Road, the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway
extension to Sangre Grande, the two expressways connecting
San Fernando to Point Fortin and Mayaro, the Caroni Swamp
road to Chaguanas, the Caroni North Bank link expressway to
Piarco and the proposed East-West and North-South Light Railways
and the water taxi from South, etc are all on Khans
How can anyone justify this obscene, exorbitantly priced and
unnecessary National Transportation Study when Minister Khan
knows it all and has already issued his edict? Is it to validate
his ideas to buy 18 months to justify continuing non-performance,
perennial traffic congestion, loss of manpower hours and potential
delay of the Interchange?
This is the unique minister endowed with a rare speciality
for blaming any and all developments/housing located near
to river banks. He now cites Chaguanas as having been foolishly
located on the banks of the Caparo Ravine.
He unilaterally embarks on a most expensive $120 million Mamoral
Dam against the advice of the marooned people of Caparo, who
know the ground, the source of the flooding and the requisite
remedial measures better than him.
According to the Caparo residents spokesperson, the
$120 million contract approved to build the Mamoral Dam had
been signed, sealed and was being forced down the throats
of the villagers without consultations.
the Catholic Church still kill?
The documentary Can Condoms Kill?, which aired
on TV6 on January 23, should more aptly be named Can
The Catholic Church Kill?
Of course, all of us are well acquainted with the bloody history
of the church (my church) and know the answer is an emphatic
As a Catholic, I am painfully aware that, not only is my church
responsible for the genocide of the Amerindians, but also
of many others during the Spanish Inquisition.
One near casualty of the church was Galileo, who defied church
dogma that Earth was the centre of the universe and that the
sun and other stars moved around it.
Even the youngest Discovery Channel viewer will laugh at these
pompous, educated professors and cardinals of the church,
who expounded such fairy tales and were willing to kill for
them. We have certainly come a long way, or have we? At the
end of the documentary, there was an interview with a Ugandan
couple, with the wife insisting she never used a condom during
sex with her HIV-infected husband, because to do so would
be a sin and would deny her entry to heaven.
Looking at the Ugandan cardinal smugly supporting her suicidal
belief, my heart bled. It was like looking at Spanish soldiers
dealing out their divine retribution upon those who dared
to rise up against their enslaversthe real Martyrs of
Kids facing death to cross highway
I received the sad news of an innocent child, Anna Lisa Ali,
hit by a vehicle a few days ago crossing the highway from
Carlsen Field. This child, together with many others, are
forced to risk their lives crossing the busy highway every
day to get to and from school. Many lives have already been
lost in this area as a result of this dangerous practice.
Isnt it the responsibility of a caring government
to protect the lives of our innocent? Why do people have to
plead for years for their government to provide them with
a safe way for their children to get to school? Are you telling
us that the cry of the poor is of less importance than that
of the rich and influential?
Is the cost of an overpass or the inconvenience
of traffic lights greater than the blood of innocent children?
Are you prepared to compensate this family for the life of
their child? Are you doing anything to help them now?
I cry out to our government ministers: Would you allow
your children to cross this highway to get to school? Do your
children alone have the right to safety? Are they the only
ones that deserve a secure future? What would you do to protect
the life of your child?
Please, please do something now! Dont say that you care,
Organ donor card is vital
FINALLY, it seems the government of T&T is doing something
that makes total sense. I am referring to the governments
decision to start up a voluntary organ donation and transplant
programme in the country in July 2005.
From the announcement by Health Minister John Rahael, it is
not clear, however, just how the programme will be implemented.
By what means will medical personnel know that someone is
an organ donor, so they can remove their organs? In most places
that I know the programme to work, the person carries a wallet-size
organ donor card; or the fact that she/he is a donor is shown
on their drivers licence.
This is something new to the sensibilities of Trinbagonians
and thus people need to have the benefits of this new programme
explained to them. The government should embark on an education/advertisement
campaign to sell the benefits of this donation programme,
along with showing the protections under the law, so people
can be assured that the programme will not abuse them and
They may also have to win over those with religious and other
ethical objections to their efforts. But I believe with time,
the public will come to realise the benefits of an organ donor
programme and will volunteer their organs to the good of mankind.
As callous as it may sound, with the number of murder and
accident victims in the country whose organs now go to waste,
while many other people who could use those organs, die needlessly,
it is a shame. It is good to see the government willing to
address the problem with a sensible and humane solution.
I applaud the government for their forward thinking on the
subject and I wish them all success in advancing this lifesaving
endeavour, especially for cornea, liver and kidney transplant
Now lets see how the programme will be administered.
I am sure the many doctors with these surgical specialities
will soon get an opportunity to exercise their skills and
help to extend the lives of many people.
Another step toward Vision 2020. Congrats T&T!
KELVIN C JAMES, Sr
on path to dictatorship
one whose age has afforded him the opportunity of seeing the
Peoples National Movement (PNM) come and go more than
once, please permit the following observations.
While national sentiment and interest are offended by perceptions
of Israeli imperialism and American aggression, it is of significant
import that neither of these offenders of local sensibilities
may be accused of waging war against their ownon behalf
of, perhaps, but against, never.
That dubious honour is the sole achievement
of the current PNM administration, splurging new-found hydrocarbon
wealth in all the wrong places.
That urban sensibility was scarcely disturbed by the closure
of Caroni (1975) Ltd, without adequate provision for families
and dependants of 9,000-plus employees displaced at the stroke
of a penand the dire consequences for surrounding towns
and villages affected, on spurious grounds of economic viabilityis
a sad indictment on ethnic, cultural and social insensitivity.
That was a politically motivated act of economic and cultural
aggression against an ethnic majority, perceived as the only
effective area of opposition to the ruling administration
and deserved recognition and condemnation as such. For this
atrocity, the PNM claims and is afforded credit for biting
It remains, however, as heinous an aggression as any of the
excesses of Israel or the USA, perpetrated against us all,
a fact which those who applauded loudest have begun, to their
own consternation, to realise.
The justification from an administration boasting of billions
of dollars diverted to politically expedient Cepep and URP,
million-dollar bail-outs for Liat and emergency relief for
all and sundry, while Central Trinidad remains inundated by
flood and hollow promises, is not merely specious, it is an
insult to all, save beneficiaries of political nepotism, such
as party hacks, criminal dons and unrepentant terrorists.
The real message is today Caroni, tomorrow the rest.
The tragedy since December 12, 2001 for T&T is the politically
inspired division of society into We and Them. And the We
people have been too lulled by the politics of mass distraction
to either recognise, or accept that the same bells which sounded
Caroni's requiem are tolling now for them.
As Caroni went yesteryear, so too will all independent thought
and critical judgment follow tomorrow, regardless of ethnic,
cultural and economic similarities or differences. In such
circumstances, Prime Minister Patrick Manning might be better
concerned with the prospect of secession in Caroni, rather
than in Tobago!
Expressions of genuine grief at the fate of politically displaced
employees of the National Broadcasting Network (NBN), so long
a well loved constant in national life, from a populace cowering
in apathy and fear since 24/12/01 at criminal and social anarchy,
smack of nothing more than poetic justice.
From a fickle society, so easily whipped into a frenzy of
indignation at the only productive and equitable elected administration
to date, crocodile tears at the silencing of NBN is simply
too little too late.
The unwarranted and premature destruction of a national icon
is merely another instalment on the price of their mythical
deliverance from corruption into the
hands of manic incompetence, determined to re-fashion both
the national psyche and its physiognomy in its own warped
image and likeness, as milestones on a path to dictatorship.
Concerned citizens may well inquire, though they will never
be dignified with a response, how long NBN may have continued
to perform for the community, and at what fraction of the
money which their government proposes to expend on the relocation
of their Parliament in order to massage the vanity of their
As today's mourners adapt to the latest PNM atrocity and resume
their somnolent, political apathy and myopia under which the
partys leadership has perpetrated its selective wickedness,
they might be assured that neither NBN, Caroni nor our hallowed
Red House will be the only victims of a PNM rampage through
all we hold near and dear.
Nor will a PNM-dominated Tobago be spared under Orville London,
in whom, with Biblical portent, Manning has declared himself
nations aiding rich
ON January 1, a new era in the international trade in textiles
came into being.
The 30-year-old MultiFibre Agreement (MFA), established under
the Gatt (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) rules in
1970, and renewed every five years in the various Gatt rounds
of negotiations, came to an end on December 31, 2004.
It is interesting to recall that the agreement was requested
by the more prosperous industrialised textile-producing countries
to allow them time to adjust their industries as they face
intense competition from developing countries, eg Bangladesh,
India and others in Asia and Latin America.
It was to allow time for a structural adjustment programme
like those so popular with the IMF (International Monetary
Fund), but in this case, it was developed countries which
requested protection of their textile producers through quota
restrictions and tariffs on their imports from poorer countries.
And it was the rich countries which kept requesting a renewal
of this protective agreement, so detrimental to the competitive
poorer countries. In fact, at one time, when the poorer producing
countries resisted renewing what was initially a temporary
concession, the rich countries demanded compensation for loss
The MFA can be described as the longest Third World aid programme
to the First World over a period when the rich got richer
and the poor got poorer.
The MFA survived the metamorphosis of Gatt into the WTO (World
Trade Organisation). But the ministerial meetings of the WTO
in Seattle, Doha and Cancun could no longer persuade poor
countries to perpetuate the status quo.
As the Asian textile producers are poised to make large gains
in the markets of rich countries for textiles, rich countries
are resorting to all means to frustrate such an attempt. Pressure
is being placed on China to increase the value of its currency
to eliminate the advantage of lower prices.
Pressure is also being applied to place an export tax and
to voluntarily restrict the volume of its exports. Rich countries
are considering imposing taxes on imports, considering them
a penalty for dumping, ie selling products at
a lower price than is available domestically.
There are all sorts of innovative ways of protecting domestic
textile industries, and the rich industrialised countries
have a long experience in all sorts of creative ways of frustrating
the just demands of poor countries to gain the benefit of
their competitive advantage.
To underscore the importance of textile production to the
developing countries economies, it is worth recalling
that a Gandhi-inspired trigger to the emancipation of India
from British exploitation was the reclaiming of its centuries-old
textile industry, eloquently symbolised by the spinning wheel,
now occupying a place of honour on the flag of a free India.
J MAKHAN DUBE
Landslides a result of slackness
I WISH to address a very serious issue facing our country:
the problem of landslides.
From the media, we seem to be hearing all about the plethora
of events themselves, yet there seems to be some reluctance
to discuss the mechanics behind their occurrence.
It is wonderful to hear the Government will be expending the
capital to fix the problems, but lets hope theyre
taking the right approach and not spending money in vain.
People seem to be hearing only about rainfall as a factor
in the onslaught of landslides, where it is merely one of
Why the hills are falling down:
If we have been paying close attention to media reports, we
may have noticed that for the most part, landslides are happening
along parts of the Northern Range which were cut a long time
ago; along the North Coast roads; and around homes that were
established in the hills many years ago.
The cutting that was done to facilitate construction of the
North Coast Road, for example, produced slopes along the sides
that were almost perpendicular to the roads. These steeply-angled
slopes were then left without the protection of any sort of
retaining measures like walls or gabions, probably because
the cost of building them would have been much too prohibitive.
Along many parts of these roads, rock layers dip or slope
downwards toward the roadway, which heightens a slopes
vulnerability to failure.
The roads along the Northern Range were cut more than half
a century ago. The range is made up of metamorphic rock that
is weakened by a pervasive system of faults and joints (the
cracks and lines you see as you drive to Maracas or along
the Lady Young Road).
What has happened is that the rock has been weathered, or
broken down by natural factors such as air, rainfall, temperature
and time. The longer the slopes are exposed, the more weathered
they become. This makes the rock become very weak and crumbly
and it is predisposed to falls or slips down the very steeply
Because the rocks are cracked up by joints and faults and
have become crumbly with weathering, it is very easy for water
to filter into them. Water building up within rocks does two
things: it makes the rock heavy and increases the internal
pressure within the rock; and it lubricates loose material,
making perfect conditions for it to slide down a slope.
Here are ways that we have made this situation worse:
Apart from rainfall percolating into the rock during the rainy
season, burst Wasa and private water pipes constantly leak
into the rock. Additionally, when we put soakaway sewage systems
on hillsides, the water filters through the rock causing the
When we clear away vegetation from the hillsides, we remove
vegetation as a buffer and cause water to flow directly onto
the rock, accelerating the weathering process.
When we remove trees from hillsides, we remove their roots.
Trees and grasses help to hold rock together on hills, even
loose, crumbly rock. When those roots are gone, so is their
cohesive function. This makes more loose material available
These are the very basics in black and white. The reasons
for our landslides are, therefore, once again resultant of
the actions of humans without foresight. Actions that took
place long ago are affecting us now.
Just imagine then, how our destructive present day actions
are already impacting on our children, grandchildren and future
Remember that cliché, Sustainable Development?
A drastic change in the way we develop our hills is just the
beginning of what it might really need to mean.