Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Ludicrous
(Aired 5 April 2007)

 This county never ceases to amaze me.

 Nearly two years ago we were told by the incompetent people who run this nation that they were going to build a Stadium for World Cup Cricket 2007, they were going to build it with money that we did not have but that as a result of doing so the exposure we would get from it would make us wealthy, since thousands of tourists would come here for the cricket, that they would fall in love with the muddy waters and muddy beaches of Guyana, the squalor of Guyana, the crime situation of Guyana, they will love the roads which are mostly in a complete mess in Guyana, they would fall in love with the fact that in our quaint city of Georgetown we do not have even one working traffic light, they would fall in love with the fact that as a Heavily Indebted Poor Country [HIPC] we have destroyed the very fabric of life in this nation, that they would fall in love with the quaint new structures around the country especially the city which have as much character as a pile of shoe boxes piled four stories high, that they would fall in love with the East Indian culture of Guyana, not our West Indian culture mind you, they would fall in love with our East Indian culture, this was clearly stated in the brochure which introduced the Guyana Stadium to the international community and up to today.

Despite the protests of those of us who are not of pure East Indian origins, it has not been changed.

It would be impossible to change it anyway since it was already circulated internationally and was therefore forever cast in stone but it reflects something important, which is that for this PPP government, which was elected by an overwhelming Indo Guyanese vote regardless of their competence, have no time for the rest of us, the Afro Guyanese, the other mixed races and the Amerindians who are an irrelevance in Guyana, even though we account for nearly 50% of this population.

And why shouldn't they disregard us?

Aren't we allowing them to do so?  The government behaves as we are an irrelevance and we accept it.

A few weeks ago, close to the time when this Stadium was to host the first match, concerns were raised by the international organisation, which was hosting the event, that the Local Organising Committee which comprised Frank Anthony, Robeson Benn and Karran Singh would be replaced by an international body G.L. Events to manage the venue to ensure sure that everything went well; now two of these people, who were replaced, are Ministers in our government, that is how much trouble we are in!

Now the people who built this Stadium were Indians from India not the PPP and so they would have to take the kudos if this Stadium was well built, but the situation is that having been given the Stadium we apparently could not convince the CWC that we could operate it to their standards successfully and so the job had to be taken over by the CWC committee, a good example of this concept is that you have a helicopter, it has just been built and its ready to fly, would you put a monkey to fly it? O f course not, you would have to find a competent helicopter pilot, so it is clear that the Cricket World Cup Officials had to fly this particular helicopter, this Stadium, for it to function with any competence the way it did, I concede that we were launching something new and I understand that we needed help, but don't insult my intelligence by saying that you pulled this success off, in fact it was an insult to this nation that the members of the Local Organising Committee did not even attend the meetings at which the standards and the system of operating for the CWC were explained, prompting them to be replaced, interpreting the arrogance of this I leave to you.

But now we come to the word ludicrous, this word was used as a single word in the insipid Chronicle newspaper of  March 30th as the main headline to refute the claims that the Stadium was not ready for the cricket, I want everyone to understand that the word ludicrous according to my dictionary is a word which means that something is ridiculous to the point of being amusing, well I don't find this situation amusing at all, this government spent billions of our dollars which we don't have, preparing Guyana to host this cricket, they build a Stadium especially for it, the only place in the Caribbean to do so, they encouraged people to build hotels and Bed and Breakfast installations in their homes, a few even had a promise of giving them Casino gambling licenses without consulting this nation, to house what they alleged were going to be thousands of visitors which will come here for this cricket and it did not happen, they wasted our taxes and they wasted hundreds of millions if not billions of the private sector's money which they did not have, mind you some of them will simply double up on their fuel smuggling, money laundering and drug dealing activities to make up the difference and guess who will turn a blind eye?

But we have ended up with an expensive white elephant, it was a gross miscalculation and a gamble on this cricket which I pointed out was putting all of our limited resources in this one basket, and they lost out in the worst possible way, I don't care if this same low turn out happened to Trinidad, I don't care if this happened to Barbados, they are not HIPC nations and they did not have to spend the kind of money we did to prepare for this event which has now established itself as an unmitigated economic disaster for this nation and its business community, if this country held its public officials to account we would ask them to resign, since the economic repercussions of this dismal failure will haunt us for decades to come.

We will continue to blunder forward to the next disaster which is the Skeldon Project and I forecast that for at least the next 10 years that also will be disastrous for the Guyana economy.

And in the middle of all of this the PPP's own incompetence nearly caused the biggest threat to the success of this entire fiasco. And it happened this way.

After the last election our brand new Minister of Agriculture being completely incompetent to perform the function he has allowed himself to be loaded with, not wanting any possibility of disaster on his hands, directly instructed or allowed himself to be part of an instruction which caused the water in the Lama Conservancy to be blown out. H e or they did this because expecting a high rainfall in December and January they did not want any possibility of flooding going on during the CWC. Now ladies and gentlemen I have told you more than once that receiving 26 inches of rainfall in 5 days as happened between the 14th to the 18th of January 2005 is not something that you or I are likely to see again, maybe our children will but according to statistics it is not reasonable to expect it for another 60-70 years. Not understanding this, and not understanding the dangers and expecting a huge rainfall in January 2007 the Minister of Agriculture or Freedom House or the Lama Conservancy Commissioners allowed the Conservancy to be emptied, but the rain did not come, since between December and the end of January only a total 7 inches of rain fell so at the beginning of the dry season around the 2nd of February 2007 the Lama was empty, with the water level nearly two feet below the normal Full Supply Level by the end of M arch it was nearly 5 ft below the normal Full Supply Level.  

Even GUYSUCO noted it in a letter they wrote to the Lama Commissioners on the 2nd Feb 2007.  Now you have to understand that I am a Vieira, my family have been paying to use the Lama Conservancy for 104 years, my father was a Commissioner for almost 50 years and we had never seen the Lama Conservancy that low at the beginning of the dry season [even the El Nino Year] and I knew that we were in for a hard time.

This is April and the midyear rains have already come halting the cricket. Ladies and gentlemen our real rainy season can start from April to July, when we say May/June rains, it is not written in stone that the rain will fall exactly in the months of May and June it can start as soon as April and it can end as late as the end of July/August so again rain has destroyed any possibility of recouping any money we invested in this fiasco, the West Indies Cricket Board of Control must be made to understand these facts, and the cricket should be held in Guyana first in March since any cricket scheduled to be played here in April and after is under threat from being rained out; the December/January rainfall season is the small rainy season, sure the rain can fall with monstrous intensity during the end of year rainy season as happened in 2005 and in 1934 but the December/January rainfall can and does fail, the May/June r ains however which is our bigger rainfall season has never really failed.

Those who allege that they are in charge of out affairs must understand these simple facts about our country or they cannot function to protect us from too much water, or too little water.

We came close to disaster this time, the city was already beginning to close down as a result of a water crisis only the fact that the midyear rains came early, saved us.