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January 4, 2021
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January 4, 2021

Going nowhere fast…

By Vernon Khelawan, vkmoose@gmail.com

Everyone is looking to 2021 with great hope and optimism. The hope first and foremost, is the opening of the economy and an ease-up of the stringent health protocols.

While most people adhere to the Ministry of Health’s edicts, there is still a large section of our population who feels that these are being overdone.

In whichever category you fall, it does not take away from the established fact that COVID-19 and its attendant new strain, will be around for a while. As I said several months ago, I firmly believe this is God’s way of attracting His attention.

This world has gone awry. Look at our little country’s murder rate, decreased, but still too high; the various and hideous violent crimes against our women and girls including sexual offences against defenceless teenage girls; home invasions; armed robberies and even fraud. This is the state of our land today, fighting crime apart from battling COVID-19.

But as good and faithful Roman Catholics, we believe there is always light at the end of the tunnel. So, we see 2021 as a turning point. Jobs will become available; the economy will be opened, but it would be a ‘new’ normal with many examples of creativity and living with many differences.

But I ask, should our politicians not play a more integral role in getting things done for their constituents and ultimately for the entire country?

Our country’s politicians promise much but deliver very little. What they really stand for is always illusive and hardly ever in our national interest. We have become so hardened to election promises being only words uttered at election time that it doesn’t seem to matter.

Once their objective is realised, you become a statistic until your vote is needed again. I know I am a victim. I asked my MP to help me get my full pension. His retort, “Write me a letter and drop it off at my constituency office”, the address of which I did not know.

Another instance: You hear the Minister of Public Utilities regurgitating that the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) is top-heavy and very much over-populated with workers. But we have heard that for decades.

“Water for all”, was another cry made by a previous minister. This has reached nowhere. Metering, which seems to be taboo and caused a previous Public Utilities minister’s resignation, has been around for more than 30 years.

All the current minister’s ‘pie in the sky plans’ are great, but we have heard them before.

But what about the 18-month Genivar Report which was supposed to be done by at least the end of 2008? That project was to have the Canadian Consultancy firm “develop a WASA and Wastewater Master Plan for Trinidad and Tobago to the year 2035”. That agreement was signed at the Trinidad Hilton on May 4, 2007. I have not heard anything about it. Did you?

Or, if you recall, Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL), which succeeded BWIA more than a decade ago was lean and mean on transfer, but it did not take too long for it to become overpopulated with workers and in this digital age to boot. The losses mount and is this the reason that repatriation flights fares are so excessive for returning nationals?

Road repairs is another story. The Minister of Works says one thing and something different happens. Two examples. I am not an engineer, far from it, but common sense tells me if you build a pavement, then it’s only natural that the strip of roadway between the road and the new pavement should also be paved. Look at the edges of the roadway along Smart Street, St Augustine and you would see beautiful foliage on both sides.

And by the way, WASA must have something against new bitumen on any street. The Authority digs it up within days of any re-sheeting project. Take a look at Lower St John Road (the road to Mount St Benedict). For years it featured more holes than a grater. Finally paved and looking nice, two days later WASA digs it up at both ends and fails to repave it.

The same goes for the popular Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) and the CEPEP projects. I asked this before – when last did you pass a CEPEP gang and see all the people working? I understand the need for ‘make work’ programmes, but not like that – two people working and the rest just sitting around.

I can go on and on, but would it make a difference? I doubt it. Until we make our leaders and representatives responsible, we are going nowhere fast.

May 2021 make a change. Happy New Year to all readers.