When a Chinese contractor in Guyana carried coals to Newcastle
Sep 25, 2016 – Kaieteur News – Adam Harris
It is amazing how much Guyanese imitate the rich ion the developed world and how little they are prepared to work for their own development. It is also remarkable how people take us for granted and attempt to do us everything possible under the sun.
I already expressed gross disappointment at the fact that we are importing even drinking water when we have no ends of bottled water companies in Guyana, some of them so large that we cannot use all the water they would produce.
Of course, I remember the first time I encountered bottled water. It was in the United States and I actually called it a sin that people would have to buy drinking water. But our screwed up potable water system soon saw us using bottled water, just like people in the developed country.
We had become sophisticated because we could not take the time to boil water. Cooking gas was too expensive to waste on a pot of water every day. And the bleach that they recommended provided people with a hearty dose of diarrhea if they were to put too much in the water. So the option is to buy.
There are carts and trucks driving around the city and its environs offering bottled water for sale but our enterprising businessmen insist on importing water.
When Rabbi Washington had his people produce plantain chips by the roomful there were those of us who did not hesitate to buy. The name Rabbi became synonymous with plantain chips. Today, were are importing plantain chips from Trinidad, thus robbing some Guyanese a chance of making a living.
I sat with Finance Minister Winston Jordan and lapsed into Memory Lane when he spoke of women who made sugar cakes—chipped and grated, the people who made those ice blocks, the sno-cone vendor and all those enterprising people. Many fed their families on the proceeds. Some went on to bigger things.
Minister Jordan spoke of candied Carambola. I remember the women of Mahaica who met trains to sell fish and bread. The trains are gone but the craving for fish and bread still remains. Such an occurrence goes beyond the culinary delights.
This past week my newspaper broke the story that the contractor fashioning the expansion to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport has opted to import stone. This is a travesty.
Guyana produces the best quality stone that can be found in the region. The price at which stone is being sold in Guyana is matchless. To make the use of local stone even more profitable is the fact that the transportation cost would be drastically reduced.
However, without rhyme or reason the Chinese contractor announced that it was importing stone from Suriname. The first shipments have already arrived.
When reporters asked the government about this development, Minister Dominic Gaskin said that there was nothing that precluded the contractor from importing stone. He said that the contract drafted between the PPP’s Winston Brassington and the Chinese contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company, stipulated that the sand for the project would come from the vicinity of the project. It was silent on the source for the stone.
To make matters worse, Guyana cannot restrict the importation from Suriname because of the Treaty of Chaguaramas that makes the Caricom region one huge market. It means that bringing stone from Suriname or from any Caricom country is the same as buying stone in Guyana.
This mere fact is taking food from the bread of the Guyanese workers but to the Chinese, this is irrelevant because our importers do the same thing.
Somehow, I have a feeling that this decision may have something to do with an attack on the national economy. I can’t see an importer going out of his way to put money into the pocket of a Surinamese producer for no apparent reason. But then again, I am not a contractor.
People take my leaders for granted and they are such nice people that they do not want to annoy anyone. But they seem to have annoyed a lot of people in Canada where I spent a part of my vacation, recently.
That is another story because I have to talk to these leaders about promises they made to the Canadian Diaspora and what they failed to deliver. I know that some expected jobs but there were those who said that they have business plans but that their proposals are not being attended to.
Yet it is this act that involves the importation of stone that gets me. China was not keen when the United States, as part of the trade agreement, sought to sell cars to China. I don’t think this ever happened.
Countries do not import what their people can produce in sufficient quantities.
Another thing that makes me realize that the national leaders are nice people is the sloth with which the findings of certain investigations are being addressed. Such is the sloth that former Presidents Donald Ramotar and Bharrat Jagdeo actually said that the audits found nothing but that he government is using them to embarrass people who are supporters of the People’s Progressive Party.
Even the prosecution of Carvil Duncan is being seen as an act of embarrassing Duncan and the PPP. The importation of stone when Guyana has a surfeit could be the last straw.