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Warner tours Duncan, Nelson Streets
Residents of Duncan and Nelson Streets, Port-of-Spain, who had previously been warring in gang violence were yesterday assured of a better standard of living, improved housing conditions and employment opportunities as the Government embarks on a bold initiative to deal head on with the crime situation. National Security Minister, Jack Warner, braved the bad weather as he conducted an impromptu walkabout on the instructions of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
During the two-hour walkabout, Warner heard from both young and old about the problems they face in securing jobs, a lack of social amenities and neglected buildings which were falling apart. As word spread that Warner was touring the area, men and women emerged from their homes hoping to get an audience and highlight their personal problems.
Following the tour, Warner said: “What I have seen here today is very disappointing. The conditions I have seen is not fit for people to live in and I am happy the residents came out and talked to me.” Accompanied by Duncan Street resident Giomar Martinez, Warner heard that “not all the guys in the area are bad and only want work.” Asking some children engaged in a water gunfight if they felt safe, the minister received several handshakes and smiles as they responded “yes.”
Taking a seat at the Duncan Street Basketball Court, Warner listened as Curtis Mc Kenzie and Elizabeth Greasley begged for assistance. Greasley appealed for a community centre where she could teach other single mothers to do handicraft, while Mc Kenzie produced a list of ideas to improve life in the area.
Promising to return tomorrow with Works and Infrastructure Minister, Emmanuel George; Social Development Minister, Glen Ramadharsingh; Housing Minister, Roodal Moonilal; and Sports Minister, Anil Roberts—at a meeting at the Eastern Boys’ Government School so that they too can assist in bringing back the area, Warner said: “We have to bring back the place to what it was before. The people have to get jobs and we will shall find jobs for them.”
Adding that the walkabout was not about securing a vote, Warner said: “I don't care about that. At the end of the day, they are people too and when you are living in conditions that are so poor and so impoverished, next to people who are so rich and so wealthy, this kind of neglect is unprecedented and must be corrected.”
Warner said the effort was also part of the multipronged approach to fight crime because “to fight crime, you have to remove the conditions that cause crime. We have to give people jobs, we have to fix peoples’ homes and we have to give people social surroundings. Fighting crime is not only about police and guns, it’s about respect and dignity and giving them jobs.”
Urging residents to “plaster the bullet holes in the walls and remove memories of those bullet holes and let us begin a new era and put the past behind us,” Warner said the Government will bring back Duncan, Nelson, Charlotte and George Streets to what they were before. Part of that effort will also include providing residents with start up material and equipment, as well as teaching them skills they can use to secure sustainable employment.
Prior to yesterday’s walkabout, Warner met with a three-member delegation from Illinois, regarding the introduction of a Community Transformation Ministry (CTM) project locally. The visit formed part of a wider initiative between the Evangelical Church of the West Indies (ECWI) and a group of five African-American churches in the Peoria, Illinois, area.
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