Tony Vieira's Comments
22 October 2017

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Metrification
(Aired 13 September 2002)

     A few nights ago whilst channel surfing to see what the competition was doing I saw a group of persons on GTV rationalizing the introduction of the metric system, the callers and the hosts of this show talked about globalization and all sorts of nonsense without once understanding the fundamental repercussions of this ridiculous law. So I decided to check, As of the 1st. of January 2002 this country by passing legislation order number 4 of 2001 modifying the weights and measures act of 1981 made it illegal for anyone to use the old imperial system of measurements. The act declares that and I quote it "from the appointed day [January 2002] the metric system only shall apply in Guyana and the imperial system shall cease to have legal force and validity" signed minister of trade etc. Goofy Da Silva.

    Of course the government were given Grants in US dollars from the European Union to conduct courses, seminars etc. to effect this change, and after taking these huge amounts of money from the EU they had to show that they did something with it, so, with the usual total contempt for the nation, they set about to introduce this system by legislation without proper consultation with the public to rationalize the receipt of the grants.

    The metric system is by far a better system of measurement than the imperial system we have grown so accustomed to, it operates in multiples of 10, 100, 1000 etc. there is for example the centimeter instead of the inch, 100 centimeters is one meter, 1000 meters is one kilometer, instead of 12 inches making a foot, 3 feet making a yard and 5280 ft making a mile. Same with weight, 1000 grams making a kilogram and 1000 kilograms making a tonne. Instead of 16 ounces making one pound 112 pounds making a hundred weight and 20 hundred weights making a ton of 2240 lbs.

    But it ends there, because I don't think in metric and those of us who are my age, NEVER WILL everything I ever learned and which guide me in the  decisions in my life is based on the imperial system, the Vresailles tower is 300 ft, the VCR is 1/2 inch VHS, two inches of rain is a lot, 88 ft per second is 60 MPH, the list is ENDLESS.

    A perfectly shaped woman has the dimensions of 36, 24, 36. so what is this 91.4 x 60.96 x 91.4 centimeter crap, the woman sounds like a blimp to all of us. Now men one of your friends calls you on the phone from New York, he tells you that he is getting married you ask him to describe the woman, he tells you that she blond is 5 ft 7 inches tall, weighs 128 pounds is 38, 26, 36 and you say wow!!! Imagine him calling you and telling you that the woman is blond, 160.18 centimeters tall, weighs 62.14 kilograms and has the measurements 96.52 x 63.5 x 91.4... from the way we have been programmed to associate measurements from the cradle, this guy is marrying someone from outer space.

     The Europeans have always used the metric system it was designed in France in 1790 and believe it or not by 1897 the British parliament decided that it was a better system and that they would implement it, after endless attempts, up to and including today, it has not been completed, because they were of the opinion that they did not have the right to force people to use metric against their will and so they are doing what the Americans are doing, they have a dual system and it will be phased out over several decades. None of this Guyana executive lawlessness nonsense, they tell us that this is now the law so WE all must now think metric, well gentlemen YOU think again.   

    The transport for my land says so and so square feet.

   The neighborhood councils, the district councils, the regional councils, the municipality of all of our towns, still deal with yards and feet and they have to do so, because all of their legal distances are set by statute in the imperial system of feet, yards, miles and so on. Are we all now breaking the law because our transports which are measured in the imperial system now have no legal effect because Da Silva says so? Can anyone tell me what will happen in this country if all of our transports which are measured in the imperial system no longer have any legal effect? Simply putting up a sign saying that the speed limit is 30 kilometers an hour is nonsense if the statures do not support it?

    I will not even attempt to go into the problems this poses for rice farmers who have no idea what a hectare is and who own lands or have transports or leases which are described in acres and who use 165 lb bags to take the rice to the mills. Or the sugar industry field workers who do job work based on the imperial system and which are enshrined in all of the union agreements.

    There are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of legal agreements in this country which are established using the imperial system; do all of these agreements no longer have any legal effect?

  How come it is only a few poor shop keepers and commercial manufacturers who must now change their scales etc to metric to confuse themselves and the population and to satisfy the European Union because they happen to be sitting ducks for this kind of nonsense. The British metrication board after implementing every possible programme of consumer information campaigns, composed endless pamphlets on the matter over the past 100 years came to the conclusion in 1980 that and I quote "we little knew that the die was set for a further 20 years of waste, confusion and argument they did nothing to refute the big lie, namely that Britain was being forced to change because of the European Commission. In fact during the past 20 years European politicians and businesses in continental Europe couldn't give a damn whether Britain changed to the metric system or not, Because Britain was shooting itself in the economic foot maintaining a dual system" end quote and so were the Americans. Almost everything we buy comes from Britain or America so we benefit from this dual system of measurement. Unless the Americans and the British comply fully, there will never be globalization in terms of measurements, so why should this poor country go to the huge expense of making this change with all of the complications it carries with it.  

    Notwithstanding that the law has been passed, no one will be taken to court for breaking it, since any half decent lawyer will force the court to agree that the implementation of the metric system in such a lopsided fashion is discriminatory and probably unconstitutional. This law must be withdrawn, now, before it leads to total chaos, this country has problems enough.

    There are manufacturers in this country who have very expensive machines which makes zinc sheets, wire fences, pipes etc. all calibrated in inches, feet and yards, what can these men do if they can no longer deal in the imperial system? Throw away all of these expensive machines? And what about me, I decide to replace a zinc sheet on my roof, I go to Gafoors or Toolsie or National Hardware I tell them that I need one zinc sheet, the old one is 8ft by 4ft what are they supposed to do? Tell me that they can't sell me an 8x4 sheet because of this ridiculous law and that it must be identified in metric measurements? Or sell me something in metric that cannot fit. Same thing with Pipes, we all have in our yards and houses pipes of every description all ½ inch ¾ inch, 7/8 inch 1 inch, 2 inches etc. is there one person in this country whose house has pipes measured in centimeters? What are these huge manufactures/suppliers supposed to do, sell me a pipe in centimeters which may have a small difference because of the decimal points between the imperial measurements and the metric one and all of it is mismatched and leaks. It is a recipe for disaster. Same with Lumber... we and all of our tradesmen are programmed to think in 1x4 inches, 2x4, 1x12 and so on, what happens now? 1 by 4 will now be 2.54 X 10.16 cm??? I kept asking myself which genius thought this one through? GUYWA hooked me up LAST YEAR in 2001, the transition year to metric, and they asked me if I wanted a ¾ inch pipe connection or 1 ½ inch pipe connection, were they breaking their own laws, and listen to this one, the west Bank water system was designed and built by the European Union.

   And more and more wrong interpretation will inevitably lead to skullduggery on the street between vendors and the public. Can anyone imagine what it means to buy what was once one pound of beef but is now 453.6 grams? Or one pint of oil which is now 473.2 Mls. Does the Guyanese housewife not have enough problems looking over her shoulder to see which thief is coming to rob her when she opens her purse?