Engineers and 'engin-fars'
August 17, 2002
By Bukka Rennie
It is said that during the days of the last regime an "engineer" was any partner, relative or good friend with a tractor and a back-hoe.
One individual even informed us he left T&T for a few months, and when he came back he met his former gardener with a contract to build a $10 million school. Suddenly, anybody was an engineer.
Look, the most damaging thing about that last regime was neither its feeding frenzy at the public trough nor its levels of in-depth immorality.
Instead, its great damage to the national psyche was its blatant disregard for professional standards.
Its "don't-give-a-damn", "everything goes" approach rubs contrary to the kind of value system a society such as ours, that is in the throes of becoming developed, will like to instill in our youth.
There is a studied, scientific methodology that guides the processes involved in any task one may wish to undertake.
The professional is the one who comprehends and applies the guidelines to any task in accordance with the relative methodologies, and therefore he is the one that ought to project-manage.
All we have been doing since the days of colonialism has basically been about seeking to develop and extend the critical mass of such professional expertise locally.
Whether it was the early people who went off to City and Guilds in England and came back to man the Ministry of Works and guide the development of the kind of social infrastructure essential to modern existence, or the later people who, besides doing engineering inculcated management techniques via American conceptualised MBAs, the point is certain core values and standards had to be established and maintained at all costs.
There are people here in their various fields like Lauriston Lewis (deceased), Cleve Lennard, J Newel-Lewis, Franco (deceased), etc, who laboured for years to develop, extend and maintain the accepted scientific standards. But we know very little about such people because we have never took time to learn about ourselves.
If we ever do take that time, we will come to know it is indeed a great dishonour and slap in the face of such genuine professionals and true nationalists to tell them an engineer is any relative or friend with a tractor and a back-hoe.
Are we then surprised that the response from the master of the Cabinet of the last regime in relation to queries about the site of the Biche school was, "Just go and build the school!"
Two hundred houses in Kensington, England, multi-millions in foreign bank accounts and blatant disdain for the Integrity Commission could never be more damaging than such callous disregard for the lives of children merely to facilitate claims of "performance".
Do we know, for instance, that all schools are supposed to be built in such a way, with such specs, that they can become safety-shelters in case of natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and civil wars?
Do we know that?
And that Cabinet sanctioned the building of the Biche school on a geological fault?
Every single member of that Cabinet should be jailed for his/ her collective responsibility in regard to what may have quite easily become criminal negligence, had they not collapsed in office. Some say it was truly divine intervention.
What however is truly amazing and indicates so much about this society is people who have been so greatly tainted with such a long list of malfeasance in public affairs - from the $30 million rice scandal to the latest Tidco revelations - could still be considered by so many as leaders worthy of any consideration.
And what gall do they possess? Every new revelation is not met with any semblance of penitence, but instead with a kind of "brave-danger" attitude or at times a kind of silly, puerile pretense of innocent stupidity so typical of children caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
Lindsay Gillette: "…And I touched him on his shoulder and said, 'AG, the company that I head has an interest in these awards of telecommunications licences', and the AG assured me that it was okay… blah, blah, blah…"
Ramlogan: "…There was no performance appraisal to award me the performance bond, but the board always informed me that I was performing well… and I left the room when the board was making that decision … blah, blah, blah…"
They must think we are all a herd of proper asses.
What a country!