New Textile Mill Might Prove Dollar-Saver By JAMES RAMNATH, Cumuto
Not far from the foot of the Northern Range hills, on a small plateau on the immediate outskirts of Arima, nestles the new textile factory of Safie Brothers and in very close proximity to the Eastern Main Road, built and equipped at the cost of about two and a half million dollars and ready to go into production.
All the necessary plant has been installed, and technicians are busy cleaning, checking, and trying out the machines and processes in an effort to be prepared to start work as soon as shipments of cotton which are eagerly awaited arrive from the United States.
The main building covers a very large area and is flanked by large and spacious warehouses on the western side, and there is an ultra-modern office on its north-eastern side.
Water, of which much will be used, is obtained from a well sunk in the bed of the Mausica river nearby, from where it is pumped by an electric-driven pump to two tanks close to the main building, while the water from the roof will be collected in two tanks near the well, where it will be stored for emergency use.
Other features include an up-to-date electric steam boiler, a modern machine shop, and an electric transformer unit of its own. Hundreds of workers, skilled and unskilled, labored for over a year to complete construction of the building.
Work For 500 Expected
Outside of the oilfields this factory as a single unit will be the largest employer of labour. When the mills get into full operation well over 500 persons = about two-thirds women and one-third men – will be given employment. Of this number a few girls have already been taken on to be given specialized training in the handling and working of the looms. It is understood that the mill will be operated on the shift system, of which there will be three to enable it to give maximum production, which would be in the vicinity of 35,000 yards a week.
This would be a boon, particularly to the people of Arima and the surrounding districts as it would tend in a great measure to ease the unemployment situation occasioned by the closing of the United States air base in Waller Field.
Indirectly, too, labour can be absorbed in the growing of cotton, which could be become a paying industry as there is so much arable land still lying idle. Cotton is the main crop of Monserrat and Nevis. It is cultivated in Carriacou, a dependency of Grenada, while it is grown as a rotation crop with sugar cane in St. Kitts, Antigua and Barbados.
If there is any doubt as to the suitability of the lands here for growing cotton, Government should act immediately by getting the Department of Agriculture to work, if possible, in collaboration with the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture assisted to some extent financially by Safie Brothers in carrying out soil surveys and experiments calculated to explore the possibility of establishing a cotton growing industry here.
Other Islands May Benefit
Millions of dollars leave our island annually to pay for cotton goods from both the sterling and hard currency areas. This new textile industry will prove a dollar-saver in that it will supply local needs, when it will be possible to gradually reduce and ultimately cease importation of this commodity from dollar areas. Other islands in the West Indies will stand to benefit in the same way, while the entire Caribbean area which depends on supplies from abroad may also benefit not only in peace time, but also in the event of another war if imports are stopped through enemy action.
Safie Brothers have certainly exhibited foresight and wisdom in their long-range plan in selecting Trinidad for the establishment of one of their factories. Here they are assured of plenty and cheap labour, the added advantage of the facilities of the Aid to Pioneer Industries Ordinance, and the security that may result from the fact that it will be far removed from the possible active theatres of destruction in the event of another outbreak of war.
It is necessary that the fullest cooperation be given from Government and others concerned in seeing to it that obstacles that may hinder the smooth working of the factory be removed and all official red tape cut, if it is to be a means of advertisement to attract industrialists from the United States.