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Mayor hit with 12 lawsuits over vagrant attacks (with CNC3 video)
The office of the mayor of Port-of-Spain last year was sued by at least 12 people who were either personally attacked or had their property damaged by vagrants.
Mayor Louis Lee Sing, who described the issue as “worrying,” said so during a monthly meeting of the Port-of-Spain City Corporation at City Hall, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
The latest attack occurred on Tuesday night when the entrance doors of the Parliament Chamber on Wrightson Road and at First Citizens on Frederick Street were smashed by a vagrant. “A street dweller was so fed up with what’s going on in Parliament he took some boulders and stoned the Parliament,” quipped Lee Sing. “I am only happy that on this occasion that particular street dweller felt he could take out his rage on buildings rather than people,” he added.
One of the lawsuits, the mayor said, was from a man who was attacked by a vagrant on Wrightson Road. “The street dweller jumped on the man, bit him on the back, leaving a big hole and then wrestled him to the ground and bit his foot. Is it an animal that did that?” he asked.
However, Lee Sing suggested persons should direct their lawsuits to Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh. He said he had faced some harsh criticism for his efforts to remove street dwellers, adding he hoped Ramadharsingh could come up with an effective plan to tackle the perennial problem.
“We had a command post here going in to pick up street dwellers and taking them before the court and everybody felt the mayor was a madman, some said he was inhuman. We didn’t have the institutional power to bring the street-dwelling problem to an end in this society but we knew we could not sit down and do nothing,” Lee Sing said.
The corporation did three exercises of its own to remove vagrants and gathered data to determine their numbers, he said. “We got to know exactly who are the people on the streets and we got to know some of them personally.” said Lee Sing.
Meeting with the ministry on plans to remove vagrants permanently proved futile, he said. He said the ministry’s latest proposal was to get rid of parking at Riverside Plaza and turn it over to the vagrants. “We are so committed to it that we have a street called Town Council Street to the back of the plaza, which we agreed to lease to the government for $10 a year,” he said.
The street was to be used by the vagrants as a free space for recreational purposes, Lee Sing said, but to date nothing had been initiated and instead the Government was spending millions to build a campus in Debe when a proper mental health facility should be constructed.
He also lashed his own party, the PNM, for not ensuring a mental hospital was constructed while it was in power. “I make no apologies for them but that was yesterday. This Government must get serious. Let us spend the money on the mental health facility because a lot of people in this country going mad.
Contacted yesterday, Ramadharsingh said he would soon hold “a comprehensive press conference” on the matter.
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