The machinery of our bauxite heritage should not be destroyed

Dear Editor,

Tears came to my eyes after reading the letter, ‘Money from Kwakwani bauxite machines sold as scrap should be used on projects for the community’s benefit,’ by the very exemplary Kwakwani resident Jocelyn Morian. I was so overwhelmed with hurt and anger that it took me about half an hour to control my emotions. Is this for real?

Living, working artifacts of our once illustrious bauxite industry are cut up for use as scrap metal? When will the sacrilege stop? When will this travesty be contained? Who are the barbarians responsible for this?

These treasures represent the ingenuity of bauxite workers – Guyanese bauxite workers, engineers and ordinary mechanics, mostly of the past but many still present. Destroying these items is destroying the handiwork of those workers who did their best to make bauxite the leading export earner, only to see it squandered by politicians and their inept policies. To see politicians being responsible for destroying the memory is a slap in the face of the bauxite industry that had once served us well and still has the potential of being vibrant.
I am not a bauxite worker but I have a reason to be emotional – I am blessed with a tint of culture and upbringing. I, unlike a lot of our politicians, have an understanding of what is important in developing a modern society. I have respect for the artists and musicians, our poets and dramatists, our doctors, lawyers and intellectuals, the ordinary furniture maker and our mechanics.

There is also a place for outstanding politicians, politicians who put aside self-interest and are involved in service for the people. What I have no respect for are opportunistic leaders and avaricious business persons who see everything through the eyes of a fast dollar. Who are the watch dogs in our society who can point out these atrocities and make enough noise to halt the transgressions? I am mad about this particular incident because I witnessed the slide while I was in Ituni from 1995 to 2001. When I got there the railway track from Linden to Ituni was still intact. The massive dragline sitting at the side of the road in the village was mostly intact. It was still perfect for visits from schoolchildren from the coast. When I left Ituni the dragline was a shell. Persons came from all over and stole the metal. During the night trucks from the coast pulled up against the railway tracks and meticulously dismantled the rails for sale to private citizens as bridge support and the scrap iron business.

As a kid I remember the accolades given to the workers who built the biggest dragline ever. It was named Sir Walker after one of the workers. Where is that dragline? I tend to believe it is the one sitting in Ituni – a derelict. Juxtapose this with the battle of a Minister fighting tooth and nail to maintain a position in which he failed miserably. This person cannot look anyone in the eye and give them two reasons why he should remain a minister. Two reasons because

I know he will use up one by saying he walked one step behind the leader of his party in the battle against the PNC. Well Mr glorified foot soldier, the battle is won. It’s time to step aside and allow the qualified and experienced technocrats to take over and move the country forward. There is one reason remaining and I anxiously wait for a response.

With all that is happening in Guyana, after 44 years of independence, my only conclusion is that the visions of Jagan and Burnham have turned to pulp. It is my firm belief that Guyana needs a fresh start. We need development minded politicians/leaders who have already seen financial success. We need a new constitution, based on a progressive mixture of social and capitalist ideologies to move us forward. I am of the strong opinion that the intellectuals in our midst must join heads to engineer this change. It seems the wishes of the electorate need intellectuals with spine to back them up. After the efforts of the electorate one year ago the success seems to be slipping away, because the gains were entrusted in the hands of intellectuals who are seeking personal grandeur.

I really thought that this new parliament, with astute leadership from the Speaker would have set the stage to force the parties to come together to formulate a new and progressive constitution. Parliament should have been able to use the new found situation – which I call uncharted waters – to discredit the existing constitution, hold back the calling of snap elections and ensure that nothing happens until a new constitution, amendments or addendums are in place. Any election should be a referendum asking the population if we need a new constitution.

Going forward there should be
an association of minds in the legal
fraternity, the civil service, the military and the police force. Given the way Guyana is governed today and especially because there is a tendency for parliamentarians to run to the court to sort out what is already decided in parliament, there is a need for an all-round understanding that legal decisions would be made in the interest of the forward momentum and development of our country, period.

For instance we all should be able to be almost 100 per cent certain about what the decision of the chief justice would be in relation to the gag order. My thinking is that with the kind of association I am suggesting membership should be compulsory for everyone admitted to the bar.  It should be a prestigious association with strong pledges in regard to the different ways of delivering justice. It means that no politician must be able to pick a chief justice or, say, a commissioner of police who has an allegiance to a specific party. Practitioners who go against the understanding of their pledges should be called out and openly disgraced. Meanwhile the present Chief Justice and the Speaker need some backbone.
The most troubling irony of the last week is the President speaking to a group of women, while at the same time women were being battered in the country he leads, yet our president did not address women’s issues. Instead he stood there representing a man whose inefficiencies have contributed to the situation, and slamming the Speaker who has been generous to him. How were these women able to accept this? Why is the opposition allowing the President to get away with this? The crime wave, the battery of women and party supporters should be the downfall of the Home Affairs Minister and an albatross around the neck of anyone who supports him.

Also, why is Mr Granger the head of the majority opposition? And, why adjourn parliament when there is so much other important business to take care of, issues that are more important than the no confidence issue? Mr Granger is a hero when we are talking militarily, but as a politician there’s a lot to be desired. To compound it having him wear two hats is courting disaster. On the other hand there is another person who may not represent a major part of the coalition but who is a savvy attorney and a smart politician.

Further he was a part of the group they now have to exchange wits with. If we are going to get the best man for the job, regardless of party or creed, Mr Ramjattan should be leading that body.

Looking on from a distance I have seen him take initiative after initiative only to have it stymied because he is not the leader and the leader, well… Mr Ramjattan is right. Sorting out and regulating NICIL is extremely important in curbing some of the atrocities that take place against the wish of the people. He and he alone has been onto this with no assistance. If there is any seriousness in Guyana about sorting out the country’s inefficiencies, work with Ramjattan.

Let the steady heads and sound minds prevail. And, stop the destruction of the draglines. Preserve them. Put them up for the viewing of our history when we get this country back on track.

Yours faithfully,
F Skinner



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