Backward Ever

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
February 09, 2021

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeI am still trying to understand why Blue Waters needed to import 39 non-nationals to work on its bottling plant when there is such high unemployment among our youths and specialized workers from Petrotrin and other related enterprises.

When Kamla Persad-Bissessar questioned Stuart Young about this matter, the latter mansplained: “This was a request by a manufacturer to bring in specialized workers to upgrade their plant. This is not unusual or unique. The persons entering would have presented their negative PCR test, they will be paying for their quarantine at a State-supervised quarantine facility” (Express, January 30, 2021).

Young’s explanation was unnecessarily censorious. It is unbelievable that after twenty years in business Blue Waters has not trained local people to undertake such a simple function. The process of producing bottled water is well established. De-ionization and reverse osmosis are two of the better-known methods. It entails the removal of contaminants, trace metals and micro-solids, to render the water palatable and to give it a consistent flavor.

Blue Waters is situated at Orange Grove Sugar Estates (OG), Tacarigua on the site on which William Burnley’s factory was located during and after slavery. In the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century, sugar production was Trinidad’s most important industry. By 1900, like 14 other sugar factories, OG was using the vacuum pan process which led it to produce some of the best cane sugar (“the yellow crystals”) in the world.

In 1902, the U.S. Department of the Treasury reported that Trinidad estates, with few exceptions, have “taken advantage of the most modern improvements in boilers, furnaces, multiple evaporators, crushing mills, and other machinery. Most of the estates are now fully equipped for producing the best qualities of sugar at the cheapest rates” (The World’s Sugar Production and Consumption).

Local men ran and maintained these sugar factories. The colonists relied on them to perform those functions. Clement Payne, a Trinidadian of Bajan origin, was the master engineer at OG. He knew that factory as the back of his hands. When anything went wrong with the factory, the owners didn’t send to England to get engineers to repair it.

This expertise was available at most of the sugar factories. C. L. R. James says there “were always one or two colored men foremen who had no degrees and learnt empirically, but who knew their particular engines inside out.” His grandfather, Josh Rudder, was one of those men.

One Sunday the engines at the factory where Josh worked broke down. The manager sent his carriage to pick him up to repair it. When Josh arrived, the manager invited him into the engine room and wanted to go in with him. Josh informed him: “I would like to go in alone.”

James describes the outcome: “No one will ever know exactly what Josh did in there, but within two minutes he was out again and he said to the astonished manager, ‘I can’t guarantee anything, sir, but try to see if she will go now.'”

“The foreman rushed inside, and after a few tense minutes the big wheels started to roll again. An enthusiastic crowd, headed by the manager, surrounded Josh, asking him what it was that had performed the miracle. The always exuberant Josh grew silent and refused to say. He never told them. He never told anybody” (Beyond a Boundary.)

Black men ran the sugar factories during the 19th and 20th centuries. How is it that in the 21st century, in an operation as simple as a water bottling plant, Blue Waters hasn’t trained local men to maintain and upgrade its plant? Angostura has long depended on local men and women to run their even more complex distillation process!

When Persad-Bissessar raised objections to this exemption, Young responded: “It had become worrying that the Leader of the Opposition ‘may be becoming delusional…as she continues to struggle for relevance.'” Young drew on his psychiatric expertise, as he pronounced on Bissessar’s mental health:

“I was hoping that after her dire and abysmal failure, in front of the country in the Parliament on Wednesday, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar would take some time for her personal health and do some introspection. I am saddened to realize she has not done so. It truly saddens me to see a former prime minister so desperate for attention.”

Who, may I ask, is the delusional one: a man who permits 39 Honduran technicians to come into the country, in spite of the pandemic, to fix a bottling plant or a woman who recognized the insult perpetrated against local specialists who could have done this job without blinking. With the recent shutdown of Petrotrin and the closure of several other downstream -processing plants, Blue Waters could have found numerous well-qualified engineers and plant operators to upgrade its facilities.

This leads to the question: If our slave and colonial masters developed the talents of the formerly enslaved and depended upon their skills, how come a nationalist government, dedicated to making us a first-world country, can’t do a similar thing? If our energy industry was developed through the skills of our local engineers, planners and operators, why isn’t a similar thing possible for water in 2021!

Our present government lacks faith in our people. It seems incapable of harnessing local talent, and building “the indigenous knowledge, technology and innovative capacity” of our people as Mary King suggested (Express, January 4). It’s almost as though it wishes to take us back into a state of perpetual dependency.

Isn’t it time that Young and his colleagues fade into the darkness and allow our people to see the light of a new day. Shouldn’t we be going forward rather than moving backward?

8 thoughts on “Backward Ever”

  1. This is such a well written article that it stands alone in its description of where this nation is heading currently. Presently thousands of Venezuelans are finding work across this nation. They were given work permission by Dr. Rowley whose love for Venes epitomized in his relation with narco dictator Maduro.

    When you go to the supermarkets and you will find the Latinos working harder than locals for 50% of the wages. The 1% understood that the best way forward is to hire those 39 foreigners and in true PNM style ignore the locals.

    The PNM by its own framework has dissed locals in all major positions. Their AG loss over 30 cases and uses tax payers money and close friends who are given “briefs” to appeal those loses. He pride himself in his Bagdadi heritage. He and the MoNS has recused themselves more times than any other parliamentarians in the history of TnT politics. The Minister of Finance who raises his nose every time he walks into a room to create an air of superiority is an Antiguan by birth. And of course the Honorable P.M. according to legend fled Tobago leaving “six jockey shorts” on the line after impregnating a 17 year old girl. Whose son he has since reconciled with him and another son mysteriously appeared at a family gathering. Number 17 is his favourite number.

    The Minister of National Security consistently deflect from answering questions that the Opposition ask on behalf of the public. Recently Dr. Moonilal asked him about the none functioning 800 cctv cameras. His response was they were being fixed, a time frame he could not give. Air Guard down, one coast guard boat functioning and 2 stalled at sea no maintenance (Sadam Hosein contribution in Parliament). But he is in charge of national security whilst Venezuelan fishing boats selling fish in Chagaramas. When asked his response was the clip being circulated is outdated. Yes the Rowley regime is the worst regime to come out of the bowels of the PNM. And they still have a few more years to sink this nation further…..sad.

    1. LOL! Pay close attention to mamoo’s carefully chosen words:
      “The rowley regime is the worst to come out of the PNM”
      Did you catch that?… The worst to come out of the PNM (a political party), but OBVIOUSLY not the worst to come out of the country. LOL!! Even UNC trolls like mamoo know fully well that the UNC and it’s avatar PP/COP are accepted as the default most despicable political entity in the caribbean. But speaking of avatars, the UNC is merely the focal point of indian politics in trinidad and guyana. Simply put, indian politics in trinidad and guyana is the worst the region has seen thus far, and it only deteriotates with time. Indian trinidadian and guyanese politics is at it’s CORE, a malicious, intellectually and fundamentally dishonest, ethnically hedgemonic, triumphantilistic, slanderous , kleptomaniac, hindutva and indian supremacist movement that shatters societies! It CREATES ethnic strife with african (black) people in an quest to subordinate them as untouchables!

      1. “ Indian trinidadian and guyanese politics is at it’s CORE, a malicious, intellectually and fundamentally dishonest, ethnically hedgemonic, triumphantilistic, slanderous , kleptomaniac, hindutva and indian supremacist movement that shatters societies”— Inconvenient
        It is a fact that under the PNM murder always increases, under Manning 550 murders a record that must be the envy of people like Inconvenient. It is also a fact that violence against women has escalated considerably under Rowley. Young women are scared to leave home.

        Whilst Haiti remains the model nation for inconvenient, Guyana under an indo-Guyanese President is currently set to become the richest Caribbean/South American nation. The people are the chief asset and Guyana is leaving Trinidad behind. Under that dictator Burnham where 300,000 indo Guyanese fled. Guyana became the 2nd poorest nation in the Caribbean.

        Under Kamla Trinidad was rising up to become the nation it was meant to be. Unemployment was down to 3.5% Kamla left an additional $32,000,000 in the HSF. Built 106 schools and left many nearing completion. Built the teaching hospital, the Couva hospital, the El Dorrado Nursing institute, and people were getting medicine. With all of that she started the Arima and Point Fortin Hospitals, thousands of kilometres of roads were built, Point Fortin Highway, Diego Martin Highway, and many roads fixed and built. NESC, Gate funding increase, UWI south campus. …the listen of achievement is endless. Too many to mention here.

        Inconvenient I have asked you before and ask you again to produce a list of Rowley achievements. Please support your arguments. Instead of your racist, rabid and misguided comments. Black folks prospered more under Kamla than Rowley. Rowley said he weaning y’all off government…first thing he did was cut Gate, school feeding programs, shut down NESC centres, increase fuel 3x, increase taxes on everything. Nobody know where the money going. Imbert has been borrowing and borrowing.

        1. Mamoo quotes me verbatim and proceeds to prove me right by churning out his UNC party political script. Mamoo, Tman and their ilk’s only concern is ethnic domination and abuse via their political leaders having control of the society. All of these incessant trolling about PNM borrowing and PNM migration and PNM blah blah blah blah blah… mamoo and tman are only genuinely interested in an indian PM of their anti-black, anti-african mindset being in control of the administration of state resources….that’s all!
          Fool us once 1986 NAR & 1995 UNC Shame on THEM!
          Fool us thrice 2010 UNC/COP/PP Shame on US!

          1. “ mamoo and tman are only genuinely interested in an indian PM of their anti-black, anti-african mindset being in control of the administration of state resources….that’s all”…Inconvenient ???

            I don’t recall having any anti black agenda. For years I worked with young black children. Many of them came from homes without a father and basically grew up with their grandmothers. At age 18 in search of love that was lost in their earlier years, they got pregnant and the baby became their embodiment of love. That is the unfortunate legacy of Caribbean parenting.

            Then I met the true African from Africa and I can tell you my stereotype was immediately shattered. To my surprise there was mother, father and children. Today many of those children have grown up and are attending university. They have a strong cultural connection similar to people from India. I am friends with many of them.

            Just today I was talking with one of my black friend. I treat him as a brother and he calls me to sound off on issues he is facing. He highly values my friendship with him. He can call me anytime. I don’t see his color as you Inconvenient would see, or as Fitzgerald Hinds who threaten to cut off the dreadlocks of a lil black boy who kissed Kamla hand.
            Those things are irrelevant to life at least in my world you respect me I will respect you! It’s that simple…

        2. Correction Kamla left not $32,000,000 but $32,000,000,000. I missed a few zeroes. She did not raise taxes on anything but lower taxes on countless items.

  2. Blue Waters probably wanted the work to be competently and efficiently completed within a reasonable timeline in order to maximize profit margins.

  3. What the PNM doing to this nation. They borrowing and borrowing. Your children future is doomed because they have created a hollow economy, kill oil and set the stage for Haiti #II.

    Hear Imbert the worst finance minister ever. “[ The government will soon be forced to borrow more money and make further withdrawals from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF) to continue to preserve jobs and maintain essential government services.
    This was announced by Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, during a press conference held at his head office in Port-of-Spain on Wednesday.
    He said: “I am confident that we will get through this. We will have to borrow more money than anticipated. We will have to withdraw some more money from the Heritage Fund than anticipated and we must continue with our restructuring of inefficient state enterprises.”
    In defence of the move, Imbert gave a comprehensive breakdown of Trinidad and Tobago’s earnings for the fiscal period October 1, 2020, to January 31, 2021.
    According to him, at the end of September, the government expected an income of $13.823 billion dollars. However, as a result of the adverse effects of COVID-19, just $12.02 billion dollars were earned, marking $1.083 billion or 13 percent less than the estimate. ]” Trinidad Express Feb. 11th 2021

    Thankfully Kamla left $30 billion extra in the HSF that they under delirium pillaging. As I said Imbert is borrowing borrowing and borrowing…the national debt is over $120 billion and growing.
    The douwen is taking the nation into the abyss!

    Inconvenient where are you…..

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