Views from a Breeze Maxi

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
April 05, 2017

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeOn Monday I attended the funeral services of Rochelle St. Louise, the granddaughter of Ulric “Buggie” Hayes, a districker, as the people of Tacarigua call themselves. The ceremony was held at the Arouca R.C. Church. At about 11:15 am I left the service, traveling in a Breeze Maxi from Arouca to Port of Spain. I am in the front seat of the maxi. I ask the driver the obvious question, “How yo’ tink de government going, man?”

“You’se de second man to ask me dat question dis morning,” he answers in an aggressive manner.

“OK,” I responded. “Tell me what yo’ tell de first man who ask yo’ de question?”

“Ah tell him dey doing shi…” This time his answer is more hostile.

“Ah know dat, but tell me wha’ yo’ eh like about dem. ”

“Ah go give you an example. Yo’ tracking a woman for months. She making style. Yo’ get through. She allow you to carry she to dinner. Instead ah telling how nice she is and how yo’ was looking forward to this day yo’ begin to ask if she have a man or to tell you about she ex-man. She eh want dat.”

“But dah is de PNM. For years dey talking about UNC and what dey go do when dey get in power. We put dem in power but all they could talk about is what UNC do and ent do.”

Ah had to take ah step back even though ah was driving.

“All right,” I said. “Tell me about the job situation.”

“Dat too?” he exclaimed.

I answered: “But we have full employment.”

He look at me as though I was crazy.

I continued: “De government eh have no money. When UNC was in power-ah sounding like PNM now-they had about $60 billion in revenues. Now, dey only have $45 billion to spend. Dat have to make ah difference.”

“Boss,” he says,”dat is true. But how come some people still making money and we eh getting nutten?”

Ah say: “In 2015, the government get $19 billion from de energy sector. Last year dey only get $2 billion. How yo’ expect dem to take care of business?”

Yet, I sought to reassure him saying “Soon de govermnent shall be spending billions to build roads and bridges.”

“Dat is good,” he says, but then he asks,”You know the highway extension from Piarco Junction to Mausica?”

I offered a lame “Yes.”

“Yo’ see what happening dere?”

“Ah car remember,” I responded.

“Well, ah go tell yo’ what happening. Go to dat road and tell me who working dere?”

He was alluding to the fact that most of the workers on these projects are Indians. I promised to check it out.

All of a sudden, somebody from the back seat shouted: “De government doh like black people, boy.”

“How yo’ could say dat?” I asked.

“Who making all de money?” he countered.

I wasn’t sure how to answer that question.

“Who getting all de contracts?”

For a moment I was stuck. I try to fumble an answer.

Without an invitation, another voice interjected, “De Syrians.”

I had forgotten that there is no ordered protocol in a maxi-taxi discussion. Each passenger feels entitled to offer his or her opinion. Others just shrug off the discussion as a big distraction.

The voice that suggested the Syrians were the chief recipients of government contracts offered supporting evidence of his contribution.

“Yo’ ever hear about ‘Justice on Time’?”

He was referring to the Amalgamated Group of Companies.

“Dem getting a cool $100 million a year just driving prisoners to and from court.”

I couldn’t tell him that Amalgamated was getting twice as much annually for their useless work.

“Yet dey can’t get money to pay poor people a little something.”

He mused: “And de poor man eh want much you know! He only want a little something to keep he family alive.”

In a flash, the discussion had gone from “government doh care about black people” to “de government eh care about poor people.”

Interestingly enough, none of the passengers came to the defense of the government. Things had changed. Years ago, one could not say a word against a PNM government in a maxi-taxi on the east-west corridor without being assailed.

My journey had almost come to an end when a woman who was sitting inconspicuously at the back of the maxi blurted out: “Ah living here. Vote or no vote, is de same lacouray!”

This last interlocutor seemed disinterested to the whole process. I couldn’t understand where she was coming from.

As I left City Gate, I wondered if those who govern us, riding in their high-end, air-conditioned vehicles hear or even listen to the views of those struggling members of the underclass who ride uncomfortably in open breeze maxi-taxis.

While the government coffers may be empty and while it may have grandiose plans to attack unemployment and crime, its message is not reaching those at the bottom of the society. They must do a better PR job if they wish to retain the goodwill of the people and return to office in 2020.

7 Responses to “Views from a Breeze Maxi”


  • So what happened to Fixin T&T?? It seem that T&T done fix.

  • Word is property tax will solve all the problems facing the nation. It will generate $500 million as 400,000 home owners feel the love.

    The government need to do more than taxing everything but they are face with irrational unions whose mission is to make blood out of stones. There has to be a 25% cut in salaries and an end to back pay, cola etc. That will require the wisdom of Solomon not the arrogance of Imbert. At the inception of the year there was a 33% drop in the economy and an increase in salaries by $45 million. Not a sustainable developmental model.

  • The government can only give major contracts to experienced, established and competent firms, which seem to be mainly owned by Syrians and Indians. This is the reality.

  • Selwyn R. Cudjoe, Professor, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts

    Does this mean that blacks would never receive any contracts since, according to you (TMan), blacks have no experienced, established and competent firms? And do you expect this condition to remain so forever? Translated, does this mean that blacks are meant to be left out always from Trinidad and Tobago economy? Do you have any suggestions as to how we can remedy this condition?

  • Nice try cojo to sneak in the racial prejudice in this disguised “nancy story”

  • Africans are biggest set of complainers and whiners in TnT. Since Eric became PM every position of importance fell under their control. Along with that 75% of civil service jobs were reserved for them. For 37 years they rule TnT but just listening to them you think that everybody ahead and they behind pushing the wagon. The army, coast guard, police service, civil service was dominated post independence period by PNM supporters. To this day they still eat the largest part of the national cheese pie in this nation. The richest people in TnT are PNM supporters. Laventille, Beetham, Morvant aint so bad as some will want you to believe. Yes there is killing but that is not unusual, just look at Chicago where black bodies fall like rain on a cloudy day.

    The whole philosophy of victimhood is nothing but a ruse. The PNM today is quietly sharing large chunks of the political cheese in terms of contracts, housing, free money, and paid education. Why are they able to do this? They have stooges in every nook and cranny of TnT. The media is fully under their control. The various government departments are careful controlled by the PNM gatekeepers. There is hush and silent way about things regarding race that they talk about quietly behind closed doors. Yes that is the modus operandi of the tribalist controllers. The PM, the President, the CJ, the Police Commissioner all cut from the same dark cheese cloth.

    During the PNM years the Opposition areas were starved of any and everything. Even the current hospitals being built in Point Fortin and Arima are priority items, whilst the Minister of Health go scooting around for public/private partnership for the only hospital built in Opposition area, the Couva Hospital.

    Just last Friday the OWTU led a march to Parliament whilst it was not in session, then to the PM office whilst he was away. I had to laugh at these clowns whose grand charge is far from being grand. The tribal code is to be exclusionary and complaining. That unfortunately is what gets attention these days, unless you from PNM area in Lopinot and your representative is spending more time in the beauty salon rather than looking after you. You burn some tires and behave bad for a day or two. And the balisier brigade will bring you some comfort. Not so in Opposition areas where you have to “hunker down” for the long dark months of neglect. Where you have look forward to being the first to receive the pink slip especially if you have a government job or working on contract. Nuff said.

  • Mamoo you are absolutely right. Sometimes I ask myself where this so-called doctor get his doctorate and in what. He should use his expertise to teach the young men of Laventille, Beetham and Enterprise to stop killing each other. And when he’s in the US he should visit Chicago and Baltimore, they could use his skills.

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