Posted by: nastylittletruths | May 9, 2008

Corruption, Corruption…

The old Bas, along the lines of, “lies, damn lies and then statistics” first attributed to Leonard Henry Courtney likes to trumpet that there’s, “corruption, more corruption, then PNM corruption!”

I have held the view some time now that we are a corrupt little society. I ask many people why are they surprised when politicians or other public officials are accused of corruption? These people are Trinidadians from the same society as us! Like it or not, they are a reflection of ourselves – they just happen to be in the pubic glare. (Note that I specifically left out my Tobago people. I’m sorry, but there are reasons we are known as “Trickidadians” – Tobagonians are different). 

Let’s start with Licensing Office – oh… my… god…  They are so bad, it’s institutionalised. A couple was telling me the story of what happened when their elder son went to take his driving test about two years ago. He was asked if he needed any “help” with the test for a fee of TT$300. Not having the money he refused the offer and got a tough test. He did pass though, but the shocking part was when he went back a few weeks ago with his younger brother. Two years ago to rent a car for the test was TT$150, but it was now $450. And no one is asking for $300 anymore… The “fee” can no longer be refused! They have set it as part of the car rental because the officer must get his take.

A couple of weeks ago we heard a live taped conversation on IBN TV about how to go about licensing foreign used cars that were older than five years. I mean, you can get anything you want there once you know someone and willing to pay the fees. And what steps have been taken to make it a cleaner more efficiently run Government office? Absolutely nothing.

Here’s another one. Ever had to deal with the Electrical Inspectorate? I’ve heard that 9 times out of 10, someone building their own home use an unlicensed electrician. For all intents and purposes, he may be very skilled and knows the job inside out, but he just doesn’t have a licence. However, he knows someone who does… A very simple transaction, the tradesman who did the work gets the application for inspection signed by the licensed electrician, the application is lodged and his “partner” comes on site for the inspection. Cursory checks made, inspector is happy and fees paid by the owner to ensure all runs smoothly. Inspector gets his and the signatory on the application gets his cut. He didn’t do any work, but it’s his signature!

Shall we go to WASA? Now the story I heard is that they have inspectors there too, but they like to do the jobs themselves. When the property owner comes in with his application for approvals, an approach is made to have someone who can handle the job with a guarantee of no inspection failures, that is, no delays. Most of my conversations are with home buyers/home builders who speak to me on fiscal issues but they can’t help telling me their troubles. I strongly condemn the practice of paying these little bribes and having to avail themselves of solicitations made by the inspectors themselves, but I have to realise that I am not in their position. Anyone can preach from a soapbox, but when you are in the trenches trying to get things done, it’s a different story.

This vein of posts can go on and on it seems as people are emailing me their own little stories. If I am missing over the next few days, it’s because it’s Mother’s Day weekend. If your mother is still alive, don’t forget the extra special effort to look her up. If, unfortunately, she is not, at least remember her well. Have a good one…

A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies, husbands may desert the wives, wives their husbands, but a mother’s love endures through all” – Washington Irving


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