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Is a bridge to Venezuela so pointless?

Tuesday, November 9 2010

THE EDITOR: I hasten to apologise for the unavoidable delay in thanking Grant Adams, writing from Kansas, (Newsday, October 27) for his, I presume, response to my letter on the previous day, revisiting my proposal for the construction of a bridge between Trinidad and Venezuela, which he dismissed as being pointless and surmised that I was simply jesting.

He does so by the mind-boggling medium – I again presume — of an e-mail, from a country which recently celebrated the vision and exploits of mankind on its Columbus day, which pioneered aviation, which launched Charles Lindbergh across the Atlantic in a single engine plane, defying the odds against this, and which placed men on the moon, “jus so”, shattering the illusion that it was placed there for the benefit of lovers, not to mention that versatile cow.

He questions my knowledge about the distance between Venezuela and Trinidad; whether I have considered the logistics which would be involved in bridging the gap; whether the facility, in terms, exists, or indeed is needed. I trust he is aware that it’s about seven miles and that the longest bridge over the sea, in China, is over 22 miles and over water, in Louisiana, nearly 24 miles. Admittedly, I am not an engineer, nor am I required to be such to propose the idea in mind.

It would undoubtedly be a costly project, but since when have costs stood in the way, ultimately, of the march of mankind. In any event, does Mr Adams really imagine that mine is a now for now proposal to be paid for, moreover, by our country alone? It is irrelevant whether the facility, such as it may be, exists: it is still possible, for example, to travel to the US by boat, but how many do so now?

As to need, a bridge to Venezuela is a bridge to elsewhere in the Americas. Trains, when invented in England, were regarded not only as unnecessary by some, but their speed was authoritatively predicted as likely to endanger the health of their passengers!

More recently, the idea of a bridge between Denmark and Sweden was criticised in Denmark, but once it was built, Danes began to buy homes in Sweden, where they were cheaper, commuting daily to work in Denmark.

Mr Adams is equally critical of the idea of switching our driving to the right, which I would argue, incidentally, would be prudent, whether or not the bridge in mind is eventually built.

Throughout the world, the population of countries, where driving is on the right, is about four billion, compared to two billion in countries, including Japan, with driving on the left, mostly because of a historical British connection.

As it happens, the Japanese drive on the left, because they simply followed the system used on their first railways, built by the British. At any rate, do the maths! It must surely be to our economic advantage to piggy-back on the US market, to which the Japanese car industry is aimed, as it will be increasingly to China, where driving is on the right.

On the mainland of North, Central and South America, driving is on the left in just two countries, Guyana and, apparently, Suriname. Universally, the majority of countries that have switched, have done so to the right, among them Sweden in 1967, to fit in with mainland Europe, and Ghana, in 1974, within two decades of its independence from Britain.

Finally, in taking issue with my reference in all this to 20/20 vision, which Mr Adams, oddly, obviously regards as PNM territory, he wonders whether I am aware of recent political developments at home, which a more “touchy Trini” might treat as adding insult to injury. In response, rather than rely on terms such as jesting, I prefer to speak plainly and “aks” Mr Adams if is joke he making or what?

Rawle Boland

London

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