Saturday, April 24, 2010

Election Primer A to Z: 'C' is for Calder Hart, Chinese Contractors and CEPEP.

Let me begin by making it perfectly clear - I have no objection with what CEPEP was first initially started in order to accomplish ie Provide an opportunity for skills-based learning that can in turn be parlayed into sustainable employment opportunities. Great idea! Except for the fact that it has now devolved into a re-packaged URP. Care to dispute this fact? Then please tell me would-be ministers what the 'graduation' rate from the programme has been over the past seven years? And just how many sustainable jobs have been created? CEPEP is nothing but another teat for the underemployed to suckle from in T&T.

As for Mr Hart - Not only was this man provided with wide access to the public purse without the opportunity for Accountability and Oversight, he also enjoyed the confidence and support of the PM himself. And in spite of the Question Marks and in spite of the failed performances in a number of projects that fell under his purview (from the Lara Stadium to the Scarborough Hopital) the PM continued to support him blindly. In spite of the Commission Report there is probably little possibility of a Prosecution in this matter because of the huge expanses of time and opportunity that were provided to the parties to hide, destroy and / or correct their wrongs. But voters can still have the last word in this matter and get rid of the people who allowed this gross mishandling of the public purse to occur.

Lastly, the Chinese Contractors - and any other foreign contractors that may come to these shores. I would like to see that any future Government put in place the following 'VALUE ADDED' provisoes in all their contracts:

1) That foreign contractors must incorporate a susidiary in T&T. This will allow for contract disputes, OSHA claims and criminal legal proceedings to take place in this country should it ever come to that.

2) That foreign contractors be made to partner with local firms. This will provide the much-maligned industry access to improve the manner in which they operate and manage future projects.

3) Similarly, that there is a minimum proportion of skilled employment opportunities allocated to local labourers. As with 2) this will provide an opportunity to benefit from first world training and direction.

4) That we finally pay Architects the respect that they deserve in T&T. Local architects have been excluded from the lion's share of Public Contracts in the past decade. And why? Our architects are internationally trained and have proven themselves to be more than competent. Laird, Bynoe, Herrera, Chen, Franchesci, and Lewis are unsung giants of the industry. And only a trini architect can design a building that sufficiently reflects who we are and what we stand for as a people.


  1. Agreed. Especially on the point of local architects. You and Saidi should talk about that one. I think her thesis was on making a more locally inspired performing arts centre...

  2. Yes! I agree with your fourth point so wholeheartedly- I've had extensive conversations with local architects about this very point. The government is essentially killing both the Construction and the Design Industries in the country with their handling of all Contracts recently. If my information is correct, the preliminary work on that monstrosity around the Savannah was done by a local architect, upon which (I'm assuming) UDECOTT turned around and gave the contract to Chinese Contractors, which resulted in that.... THING.... being built, which has no relation to either its surrounding context or the traditional architectural values of the country.

    You and I can have a more extensive conversation about this the next time I'm home :)

    Keep writing!!! I love reading your stuff.