Last update: 07-Dec-2013 1:17 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Kamla hears east PoS woes
Housing and jobs were the main issues the people of east Port-of-Spain raised in a meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. During the meeting at the South East Port-of-Spain Secondary School, almost 500 residents also voiced their concerns over unemployment. After the meeting, Persad-Bissessar said very few people spoke about crime and the two main issues were identified as the social causes of crime in the area: jobs and housing.
Although she offered no immediate solutions, she said their complaints were taken and there were Housing Development Corporation (HDC) officials on site to address the residents’ concerns about housing. The media were not allowed into the meeting but as she left the PM told journalists: “We had quite a heated exchange, very passionate, on the issues which concerned the persons here.
“There were still some people who wanted to speak but we still have two other meetings this evening. So I have left Minister Samuel and some others to take those issues. “The main issue that arose was, two things really, housing and matters related to jobs. Those are the two main issues that were repeated throughout. “So that we will look at it. We have a team from HDC and those people are at the moment talking to those in HDC houses.”
She said everyone who raised a housing issue was being met by someone from the HDC. The issue of jobs, she said, had to be addressed in a different way. Asked if there had been any improvement since her visit to Duncan Street last week, Persad-Bissessar said: “Certainly, in terms of the police presence and the army, it has brought down the violence to a certain extent and I want to commend the police officers for the work they have been doing thus far.”
Asked to comment on the release of some of the 90 people arrested during raids on Sunday and the comment of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley that it was reminiscent of what happened after the state of emergency in 2011, she said: “There appears to be some kind of issue with the way the police have operated with taking people in. I will have to get a brief from them before I can comment.”
She said it was a matter she intended to raise with Rowley when they meet today at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, to discuss crime. Residents were then heard shouting for Persad-Bissessar to walk with them as she left the meeting. She agreed and walked a short distance with them just before she left for her other meeting.
Before the meeting, which began at approximately 2 pm, residents stood waiting at the school entrance with placards which read: “We support Madam PM”; “We love you; We support you” and “We know you care”. The PM also was greeted with applause and cheers.
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Rodger Samuel, Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh and National Security Minister Emmanuel George also attended.
At intervals during the meeting, which lasted for more than three hours, raised voices could be heard, followed by applause. Some residents and supporters, among them Christine “Twiggy” Levia, expressed their joy at Persad-Bissessar's presence. “The response that we get with the Prime Minister today, it ain't look like promises,” she said. Levia said residents no longer wanted Cepep and URP jobs. She said the residents needed real jobs and for Persad-Bissessar to visit more often.
Levia said that was not Persad-Bissessar's last stop as she had not touched George and Nelson Streets as yet. She identified job stability as one of the solutions to the problem and said one of the first things residents wanted was for the stigma to be removed from the area.
Fuad Abu Bakr, leader of the New National Vision party, was also at the meeting. He also identified job stability as a solution to some of the problems, saying there was a consensus among the residents of east Port-of-Spain and environs that they wanted sustainable jobs. The people, he said, felt they were neglected by previous governments and that trend was continuing.
He said the residents also pinpointed that the forum for the meeting was a dilapidated school. There was discontent in the meeting, he said. Asked what he expected out of it, he said he expected a comprehensive plan to be developed to address the issues of the residents, who were unanimous that they did not want “$69 programmes which belittle them.”
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