Submitted by Grenville Phillips II
In 1966, the Government or Barbados wanted urgent temporary stands at the Garrison to accommodate spectators of our Independence ceremony. Barbadian Engineers designed the prefabricated reinforced concrete stands which were constructed just in time. After our independence, those stands were dismantled and became part of our National Stadium, where they have stood for the past 57 years.
It appears that China has offered to demolish our National Stadium and rebuild another – as a gift to Barbados. That would seem to be a good thing. In underdeveloped and desperate countries, anyone opposing such a gift would likely be publicly criticised, ridiculed and persecuted to appease their Chinese benefactors. But we are not an undeveloped country.
TROJAN HORSES AND SHEEP.
In a developed country like Barbados, the Government should consider whether such gifts are in the national interest before accepting them on our behalf. The question that the Government must ask before accepting any gift is: ‘Is this a Trojan Sheep?’ A Trojan Horse is designed to harm a nation militarily. A Trojan Sheep is designed to harm it economically.
Some Trojan Sheep are obvious. If China gifted any of the following services to Barbados, the Government would immediately find them offensive. Further, local professional associations would kick-up dust at the brazen attempt to trick us with such obvious Trojan Sheep that are clearly designed to starve local industries into bankruptcy.
a) Chinese lawyers must do all commercial law cases and leave the criminal law cases for Barbadian attorneys.
b) Chinese dentists must extract all molars and premolars and leave extractions of the remaining teeth for Barbadian dentists.
c) Chinese accountants must provide accounting services to all large and medium sized businesses and leave accounting services of small businesses for Barbadian accountants.
d) Chinese surgeons must do all major surgeries and leave minor surgeries and amputations for Barbadian doctors.
e) Chinese mechanics must service and repair all trucks and busses and leave car maintenance for Barbadian mechanics.
To understand the relevance of these examples to the National Stadium, two issues need to be understood about the construction industry. The first is that Engineers, Architects and Contractors normally need to work on a similar project within the last five to ten years to qualify to tender on that type of project.
The second is that many small Caribbean countries only have one national: airport, seaport, stadium, gymnasium, referral hospital and major highway. Therefore, opportunities to work on such projects are not common.
When the Grantley Adams International Airport’s terminals, which opened in 1979, were being constructed, the work was divided into over 30 separate construction contracts. This allowed Barbadian contractors to tender, and get the work-experience necessary to pre-qualify them to work on other airports in the Caribbean for the next ten years.
When I was a project manager of the Kensington Oval’s design, we divided the project into separate contracts to allow as many Barbadian Engineering and Architectural companies as possible to work on that project. That pre-qualified them to work on other stadiums in the Caribbean for the next five years.
AN ACTUAL GIFT.
If China really wanted to give us a gift, then they may give us the funds with specific conditions. They may specify that all imported materials must be sourced from China, and provide close oversight and approval of each design and construction stage before funds are disbursed. But they should not disqualify Barbadian Engineers, Architects and Contractors from designing and building Barbados’ National Stadium.
Currently, the Trojan Sheep appears to be designed to ensure that Chinese companies will have no competition from Barbadian or Caribbean companies in the design and construction of stadiums in the Caribbean. China has built stadiums in: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominica, Jamaica, St Lucia, Grenada, and Suriname. Our unsustainable debt seems to have made us the next ripe low hanging fruit.
If the Government’s deliberate aim is to secure the Caribbean construction market for China, by automatically disqualifying Barbadian Engineers, Architects and Contractors from tendering on projects, then they should accept, slaughter, cook – and choke on that mutton. If that is not their intent, then they must renegotiate the terms of that ‘gift’ so that it is not a Trojan Sheep – or say ‘No thanks’.