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LETTER OF THE DAY - Why are we poor? Because we're stupid!

Published:Tuesday | December 10, 2013 | 12:00 AM


I read with dismay about the fate of Trans Global Aquaculture Ltd, done in by praedial larceny ('tief'), and distillery dunder water contamination of their freshwater source (the Rio Minho). Another case demonstrating government shooting itself in the foot!

While the Government proposes to destroy natural shrimp fisheries in the Portland Bight with a logistics hub, it destroyed a nearby unnatural source for shrimps (and by the way, a source of US$ into the economy), the shrimp farm of Trans Global Aquaculture Ltd, with the potential of producing millions of pounds per year.

Never mind the environmental impact of catching wild fish to make fishmeal, an ingredient that can be as much as 40 per cent of the feed. Being driven out with whips and clubs would be as painful as the slow death by theft (can you imagine thieves taking thousands of pounds of shrimp at a time?), and by dunder contamination. The slow bleeding of profits to pay for inefficient, ineffective security?

The dunder problem is the fault of an arm of the Government, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA). First, don't give the agency the funding it needs to monitor and enforce the law, and second, play nice with polluters by ignoring the 'Planning' part of NEPA.

It is a perennial problem that distilleries that probably make billions of J$ annually accidentally let dunder escape into the rivers of Jamaica, but the minister of the environment does not see fit, through NEPA, to insist on having all wastewater (and dunder is a form of wastewater, as well, that also includes the water from the shrimp ponds) trapped and treated to make it suitable for release harmlessly into the environment. Maybe the rum too nice.

The theft is another governmental failure. How come we never hear that the police have arrested and put in jail the hundreds of thieves of agricultural produce? After all, farmed shrimps fall into that category.

If the first theft of shrimps from Trans Global Aquaculture Ltd resulted in a major police-military action to hunt down and jail the thieves, they'd think twice. Same thing with goats, cows, yams, etc.

Simple, cheap, modern sensing and notification technologies (which the Government seems totally ignorant of) can be used to break the back of praedial larceny, (even the theft of gasolene by the tanker load), but year after year it goes on, and farmers small and large are driven to the wall, and then out of business, as the shrimp farmer was.

Why are we poor, and getting poorer? Because we're stupid.


Member, Jamaica Institution of Engineers