Our Readers' Opinions
August 20, 2004

The port is in a mess

Editor: I read with contention a letter in your newspaper by one Disgusted. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what or who the writer is angry with or about.
I have reason to be on the port/customs compound almost on a daily basis. I make it my business to ask questions; hence I have a better understanding of some things that take place around there. {{more}}
To say that the new comptroller “simply does not want to take the bull by the horn” is not quite fair to him. Grenville John was a senior customs officer before he became a lawyer. He then worked in the offshore industry before assuming the post of head of customs and excise department.
If I think I know Mr. John, he is just giving those “bad eggs” a chance to pull themselves together before he acts and I know he will.
Even if you change the head man, some businesses may still have particular workers at customs who give them their pre-delivery. And those same workers will still treat small traffickers like “dogs”. Maybe he wants to undermine the government or the new comptroller?
I am not saying that the traffickers must do whatever they want since some of them overdo it; but most of the time, they are aided and abetted by some customs guards. Sometimes senior guards come and see what they get.
A senior officer, along with some people I will call smugglers, took customs to task for the recent stance they took and for tightening up on the traffickers smuggling goods into the country. This officer likes to drink Polo and Sling Shot beer. All contraband. Oh what a shame!
Something must be done about this situation at the customs. In the same way that you get your photographer to show the excess goods, on Friday afternoon you must send the photographer to the baggage room. You will see how many bags of goods pass through that room that the government does not collect one cent for because they are allowed to pass as personal effects. Who knows what these people bring into the country when no officers check these goods?
About the port, that place is in a mess. No one in the government has what it takes to handle that area. Like how the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was born to be Prime Minister of this country, it’s the same way Paul Kirby was born to manage that department. That is what the Unity Labour Party is telling the people of this country.
The port makes money every day. It is not a place where you have to put in money every month. If the government had to put in money, you could bet that it would have put in someone to manage that place who is better than the manager that we have now.
I remember when the St. Vincent Labour Party/Movement for National Unity (MNU) took Jerry Scott (then Communications and Works Minister) to task in the House of Assembly for the Hyco-Boss machine that was bought second hand for one million dollars. Now would you believe that under the watchful eye of National Security Minister Sir Vincent Beache, that machine is there and not working?
Is the reason why they are not interested in getting it fixed because it was the New Democratic Party (NDP) who purchased the machine?
If that is the way those fellas are running the government, they have to stop, look and listen to the voice of the people.
What the voice is saying is, yes you bought a new machine but if you don’t fix the Hyco-Boss, instead of three machines, you will have none. No good maths at all. So come on Mr. Prime Minister. The minister in charge of the port is not going to contest any more elections. You have to look after that place until that time. I am not disgusted. I just mean well.