Corruption poster child

Newsday’s Editorial
Thursday, April 2 2009

PNMIt seems that every expert testimony given so far to the Uff Commission of Inquiry has revealed mismanagement, technical incompetence and, perhaps, deep-rooted corruption.

The testimony given by engineer Arun Buch last Tuesday on the Tarouba Stadium project was especially damning. “I have never seen anything like this,” said Buch, who has more than 30 years experience in the construction industry. But he placed blame for the myriad faults at the feet of Turner Alpha Limited, who were responsible for the stadium’s design. Udecott, said Buch, was not culpable, since the corporation was not required to know about design issues.

We beg to differ, however. The preponderance of evidence before the Commission so far shows that Udecott’s board has been habitually lax in its management of the various projects under its purview. The corporation’s own board members have admitted to bypassing procurement procedures and, indeed, of not really having any. Moreover, even before the Inquiry commenced, the corporation failed to meet deadlines for submission of documents and even excised or blacked out sections of those documents that were submitted. It is only because of the no-nonsense attitude and the expertise of Commission chairman Professor John Uff that Udecott has not gotten away with its attempts to stymie the Inquiry.

In this context, it is interesting that the Tarouba Stadium is emerging as the poster child for corruption and waste by the present PNM regime, as did the Piarco Airport project for the UNC administration. After all, the Tarouba project was criticised by citizens from the moment it was announced. People rightly saw it as a waste of money, and even back then some well-informed individuals questioned the location for geological reasons. Mr Buch raised this very issue on Tuesday, saying the clay soil and the hilly terrain cost millions of extra dollars.

From the project’s inception, though, its prime defender was Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who argued that the sporting complex had to be completed for the Cricket World Cup or else Trinidad and Tobago would face severe penalties – Mr Manning’s implication, ironically, being that the $500 million sporting complex (now over $1 billion) would save the country money. But the stadium was never completed, and TT hosted the Brown Package anyway and, apparently, escaped the financial censure that had Mr Manning so worried. Nonetheless, he continued to defend the project, at one point even claiming that the stadium would double as a tsunami shelter. That was the first sign that the project was no longer defensible, if indeed it ever was.

The revelations that are emerging from the Commission have shown that Udecott’s apologists are either naive, blindly loyal, or disingenuous. Last May, when Udecott’s board had their first media conference, one member dismissed everyone making allegations about Udecott as motivated, not by concerns of accountability and integrity, but by self-interest. When calls for a CoI became widespread, one Minister rejected the idea, saying that an investigation would “slow down” Udecott’s work. Another Minister said that Udecott’s projects were problem-free and attempted to shift blame by saying that the same private sector contractors calling for scrutiny could not withstand a similar look into their own operations.

Now, as the revelations continue to come, the public must be asking why Udecott’s board members and related parties remain in their high-salaried posts. Is it because removing them would mean that the Government was acknowledging error? If so, does this mean that the Government believes that wrongdoing is less politically expensive than admitting it was wrong?,97775.html

7 thoughts on “Corruption poster child”

  1. The UDECOTT probe is like the TELCO probe of 1987, held under the NAR. There were too many high people whose hands were deep in the till, and who tried to tie the blame on to some small fry like myself.
    We all gave testimony to the commission, but so deep was the problem(including one manager who bought a million dollar yatch with his share of kickbacks,) that the report was never published. Rumour had it that people were found leaving the country with suitcases full of US dollars, and this became the subject of an inside joke, the seven way split, (one for the owner of the money filled suitcase, three for the police officers who were called and three for the immigration/customs officers who were called).

    Corruption in TnT is a pumpkin vine that runs a bit, puts down new roots, runs in another direction, branches off and rebranches again, each time, putting down strong roots.

    No wonder the few people of integrity in the system are forced out. I think of Rowley and Gillian Lucky, and wish for them that they had a differently formatted country, in which to live , and serve and have their being.

  2. People get the Government they deserve.Keep voting for PNM no matter what.The people of Trinidad and Tobago will continue to have the Government they deserve!

  3. You forgot I said the Telco corruption probe was under the NAR? Did not the Finance Minister of that government work as a Telco executive before ? Third world systems are corrupt because we have no pension system for retired politicians that let them live with dignity, nor can they make money on the lecuturing, consultant and book writing circuit. So, they line their pockets while in power, or stay in power for ever.

  4. It is not surprising that the Andre the fraud would ignore the reference to the NAR and remain fixated on the PNM. Remember, if he should do otherwise ,he’ll have to shift some responsibility for the decay and corruption that is evident today to the ‘can do no wrong elements’ that comprised the phony Alliance, and that won’t fit nicely into his narrow political agenda.

  5. It seems that Neal is a typical PNM supporter providing blind loyalty. If it were any other political party in this country that was in the midst of a scandal such as UDECOT they would have been hung out to dry together with their supporters. What makes Patrick so different? It’s about time that you wake up from the deep trance that Patrick and his 40 thieves have placed you and all the other blind supporters under. Interesting that all PNM supporters choose to ignore all the wrong that the PNM do and focus on the wrong that everyone else does. The bottom line is Patrick supported Hart , turned on some of his party members for him (Hart) embraced Hart, defended Hart , and was a facilitator to the stealing of the money of the citizens of this country. How much more blatant can the stealing and corruption of the PNM have to be. Wake up people wake up.

  6. Please don’t get it twisted Darrion , so cut out your foolish rum shop , self serving talk for a moment my friend. I like you wish to see Patrick Manning in the same jail clothes as Basdeo Panday ,for both corruption dealings while serving as PM. One cannot cry racial discrimination and police harassment when his hand was found in the cookie jar , while the other , you wish to send to Carara because he has kinky hair and is the great grandson of a slave. It is not how democratic countries work. I wish you well, in your political power fantasy, for you surely are underestimating the intelligence of our people.

  7. this information is totally disgusting!!!!!!!!!! We want some posters showing how India is being corrupted by politicians!!!!!!!!!

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