I cannot afford new tyres for my 15-year-old reconditioned car. So I am in a dilemma. I drive the original RAV4 model. Since then three new RAV4 models have succeed it. I bought it in 2000 when UG lecturers were given duty free concession to teach at the Berbice campus. The story of that car tells the tragic tale of naked power in this country.
One hopes that with the era of PPP domination over, so is naked power. I need to tell the saga of that RAV4 for the important reason that a former President masquerading as a democrat since May 2015 ruled this land with vindictive tyranny.
I am referring to Bharrat Jagdeo. It revolts the mind to see this former president perambulating the 83,000 square miles of Guyana demanding good governance when at the most elementary level of rule, he was poisonous. Here is the story of President Jagdeo and my RAV4. I will come to the faulty decision in banning old tyres as stipulated in the 2016 budget.
I took the advice of Dr. Mark Kirton and submitted the Toyota Mark 2 model on my duty free application. Dr. Kirton chose that type and it was a good-looking drive. After approval, I went to buy my Mark 2. Right next to it was a smaller 4X4, metallic green RAV4. The price tag was $300,000 less.
I thought it was wiser to buy a 4X4 because it would survive better in Guyana’s conditions, plus it was cheaper. I was confused why a 4X4 was cheaper than a family car. The dealer explained that the Mark 2 had 4X4 features and was a new model with new features thus its expensive nature. Then disappointment came.
Customs rejected the RAV 4 because it was not the model stated on my application. I went to the Minister of Finance, Sase Kowlessar, a long-standing friend, to get permission to change the type of vehicle. On my return to his office, he said the President has to make that decision. This was unbelievable. Why? The Treasury wasn’t losing any money and I was buying a cheaper car.
My cousin, William Cox, worked with President Jagdeo and facilitated a meeting. President Jagdeo said that there needs to be an investigation to see if there was any skullduggery involved in the exchange of models since a 4X4 is an expensive vehicle. From that moment I knew with this man as President, Guyana would have to endure constant disasters.
For months I called the President’s office only to be told no decision has been made. Mind you; to change the model on my duty free letter. My cousin William Cox was extremely nice. He arranged another meeting with President Jagdeo. It lasted minutes. Jagdeo instructed me to go to Nirmal Rekha, Secretary to the Treasury, and inform him that, he, Jagdeo permitted the change. Rekha asked me to leave his office for coming to him without a document.
I couldn’t see Jagdeo again, but Cox acted as an intermediary. Cox indicated that Jagdeo was finished with the matter and it was now a matter for Rekha. Rekha refused to permit the change.
That was the end of the drama. But I relied on my teenage friendship days with the Minister. The Minister who was Rekha’s boss literally begged Rekha to approve the change. Rekha then arrogantly said to the Minister that I had to write an apology for being rude. I refused. The Minister’s secretary said she would do that on her own, sign my name and get my duty free letter. I got the transfer and the Secretary felt she didn’t want to discuss with me what happened.
This is how Bharrat Jagdeo ran my country. I say with blood in every vein, I hope this man is imprisoned for the abuse of power.
Back to the banning of second-hand tyres. My tyre model is 215-70-R16. That is the only type my vehicle uses. One tyre, not a pair, costs $40, 000. Let us say I shop around, I would not get it for less than $35, 000. Since 2004, I have used second-hand tyres.
Was there a study done for the police or the Government on the connection between used tyres and road accidents? If there is such a study was it ever made public? In all honesty, I haven’t seen much debate on the connection. With our economy, how many drivers from the lower middle classes buy new tyres? I am sure used tyres will come through Suriname and Venezuela.
I am openly admitting; I will buy the smuggled used tyres. I don’t work for a ministerial salary.
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