Once again, I am travelling here in Trinidad and am struck by their progress as a nation.
We Jamaicans are quick to point out that their progress is due to their oil, and little else.
Be that as it may, it is interesting to see a Caribbean country make the kind of progress that they have made, and that we Jamaicans would love to have.
When I first started travelling to Trinidad in the mid 1990's my impression was that Jamaica was more developed, with better infrastructure and more sophisiticated, cosmopolitan professionals.
Now, I can hardly say so as it is obvious that Trinidad has leap-frogged our development.
The number of cars on the road has visibly increased. Even small errands attract the most horrendous traffic, slowing progress to a crawl. It is clear that more people are on the roads, and driving is increasingly precarious as there is just no relaxing on clear roads within commuting hours.
A client of mine takes 3 hours each morning to get from her home down south to work. Another recently left work at 3:45, to reach home at Trincity at 9:15. This pon a 20 minute drive without traffic.
Everywhere one looks in the downtown region there is construction as builders add four buildings of ove 20 stories, all at once.
The 3 daily newspapers together comprise 200 pages on the typical day.
It looks to me that the majority of these pages are advertisements, and many of them are for jobs.
The prevailing story here in Trinidad is that everyone who wants a job can find one. Programmes like CPEP have mopped up whatever unemployment existed at the lowest end, with Trinidadians leaving job as workers at KFC, Burger King, and as helpers and gardeners to join these programmes which ostensibly provide the same wages for much less work.
Finding casual workers is extremely hard to do.
The kindof crimes that Trinidad experiences seem to be more about greed than need. There are very few despaerately poor Trinidadians, stealing because they are hungry, or just plain scared into taking what is not theirs. Instead, the rise in kindappings is driven by get-rich-quick thinking more than anything else.
The quick impression is of a country on a rapid growth path, doing the kinds of things that we Jamaicans can only dream of doing at the moment. It is inspiring, and instructive.