PM slams Tobago ‘morning wuk’ culture

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. – File photo by Roger Jacob

THE PRIME MINISTER has slammed the “morning wuk” culture in Tobago.

During the conversations with the Prime Minister at the Scarborough Library on May 23, Dr Rowley publicly endorsed the proposed construction of a Marriott-brand hotel and property development at Rocky Point, Tobago.

The $500 million project is being constructed by Superior Hotels Ltd on approximately 28 acres on the western side of Grafton Road and south of Pleasant Prospect. But there have been concerns in some quarters about the environmental impact of the project in some quarters.

Rowley said the hotel will help to develop the island by reducing the dependence on make-work jobs.

“I simply want to say that a lot of people in Tobago rely very heavily on the government’s allocation for their sustenance through make-work programmes. That is nothing to recommend as development. That is something to get away from,” he said.

“You have to expand and grow the economy of Tobago so that good jobs can be created in Tobago and wean people of this morning wuk nonsense.”

Rowley recalled the Office of the Prime Minister, with some private-sector support, had tried to develop the island along a particular path in 2019 when it encouraged Sandals Resorts International to construct a hotel in Tobago. At that time, he said, the resort chain had already set up operations in the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica and other islands.

But he recalled that negative publicity prompted Sandals to withdraw from the project.

“And while we still talking about what we do in Tobago, St Vincent has it (Sandals). It opened in March. The same Sandals they didn’t want in Tobago. It has been built and is operating in St Vincent now.”

Rowley said Barbados now has an additional Sandals Resort, Aruba also has one “and Tobago still does not have one.

“But you have ‘morning wuk.’ Once I am here (in Tobago) and I am going up to my farm at seven o’clock and the workers who cleaning the road on ‘morning wuk,’ I eh seeing them, but I see that they were there, because they cut 20 feet of grass.

“And that is supposed to be a job. And if you don’t get that, you wouldn’t vote for somebody.

“Let me tell allyuh something: if that is how you vote and that is what you vote for, you will suffer after election day until the next election.”

Outside the Rocky Point hotel, Rowley said, there are other development opportunities already in the pipeline.

He said the construction of the new ANR Robinson airport terminal building is ongoing and there also are plans to attract private-sector investment for a marina.

“These are infrastructure items that are required for Tobago’s economy to grow and expand.”

Rowley added Tobago is also needs more hotel rooms.

But he said the government is not going to build any more, but will encourage the private sector to do so.

“What we are aiming for is for Tobago to become a serious destination where there can be proper airlift, which is what Sandals’ strength was (sic), rooms of high quality.”

Rowley also lamented that the Mt Irvine golf course, which he said was once ranked among the top 50 in the world, is now a sheep pasture.

But he said Barbados has six golf courses, four of which are world-class.

“So while we are here talking all kinds of foolishness, opportunities are passing us by and people who know what to do, do it. And people in Tobago talking about: ‘Don’t do it until I get into office.’

“Well, you are in office now and nothing not happening.’”

Reiterating the government’s support for the Rocky Point hotel, Rowley briefly responded to concerns from surfers and others.

“Those who inherit their parents’ house, money and business to come and tell you nonsense about they want to surf, so don’t get hotel rooms at Rocky Point, ask them if that will pay your bill or get you a job. Ask them if that will grow Tobago’s economy.

“I am saying you could have both. You could have the surfing and you could have the hotel rooms.”