Last update: 04-Dec-2013 12:33 pm
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Constituents complain of absent councillors
In Pasea South, Tunapuna, last Wednesday, workers busily worked to repair the rough, uneven and pot-hole covered road, used by Carmini Ramroop and her neighbours for the first time in two decades. “In about twenty years this is the first time the road fix and the drains repaired,” Ramroop said, while pointing to the tractors behind her. “The whole place used to be dust. It wasn’t a dirt road eh, but it was so badly off that even the pitch that was there before was crumbling and like dust.” “I am glad they doing it but it still have a lot of roads in the back here that like that. They still have plenty work to do.” Ramroop who lives on Crown Street with her husband and children said the area had flooded recently and not a single councillor from the corporation had offered assistance. “I never saw the chairman (Khadijah Ameen) come in here. If she was supposed to be representing us, we never see her.”
Ramroop was similar to other residents of the region who spoke about councillors who disappeared only to return around election time. The Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation covers one of the largest areas in the country. It’s borders are St Joseph in the West, Wallerfield in the East, Blanchisseuse in the North and Cunupia in the South. The region has 71 communities. During the genesis of Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party (ILP), the region was one of the first to have councillors leave their political party in favour of the ILP. The region’s outgoing chairman, Ameen, was engaged in an intense political battle with Warner in August to represent the people of Chaguanas West as their MP, which she lost. It may not be surprising that people in the region are quick to compare the two individuals. “You could tell me what she (Ameen) was doing in Chaguanas? People in this area does only see her on TV but she busy in another place,” complained Caroni bartender Zameer Ali as he told the Guardian he rarely saw corporation workers in his village.
“When Khadijah Ameen was going up for chairmanship she walked through the village and I talked to her personally about a road that needed fixing. She said she would do it, then for the entire three years she wasn’t seen and the road remained in a bad condition,” Ali said. “You want to know when something get done? During the by-election with Jack (Jack Warner) for Chaguanas. The only reason she did it was to win votes. She can’t put her foot in Jack shoes.” Curepe resident and business owner Deo said in the revolving door of councillors that passed through his community in the past four decades, he couldn’t recall any of them really connecting with the community and doing work. “I don’t miss none of them. Watch this road. The entire road bad and need paving but they came and paved one side of the road up until a certain corner and leave the other side unpaved. If you are paving a street, the whole street bad, pave the whole street.”
Carlene Campbell, a St Augustine resident, looked on as workers from the corporation fixed a drain in her area. “I don’t know who the councillor is but it has gotten busy all of a sudden. People are passing in their party jerseys and they try to talk to me but I am not interested in politics. I have God to provide what I need. To tell you the truth, none of them do anything until election time.”
Campbell said she would never vote for any party or any individual. In Tacarigua and Tunapuna, there are signs of freshly-paved roads as people go about their daily routine, unconcerned with the local government elections which will take place on October 21. One Tacarigua resident told the Guardian he will “vote for Jack” and described Warner as an “action man.”
Asked what he means by “action man” and whether he had any evidence of Warner’s action, the man said: “I see how he did plenty for them people in Chaguanas. If he wasn’t doing the work he would have never won that election. The man does work.” Minutes from Tacarigua, in Five Rivers, Arouca, an old woman sits on a wooden stool outside of her shop on Manoram Street. “I can’t tell you who I am voting for,” she said. “It doesn’t matter any way because they are all the same. We will see them now and we will not see them again until the next election.”
In the 2010 local government elections, the People’s Partnership won the majority of seats in the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation with the United National Congress (UNC) obtaining six of a total of 15 seats. The Congress of the People (COP) won five seats and the People’s National Movement (PNM) won four. Local government elections, though constitutionally due every three years, had not taken place since 2003. Before 2010, the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation had been controlled by the PNM since 1992. The corporation was created after the introduction of Act 21 of 1990. Before its creation the region formed part of the St George East County Council. In both the 1996 and 1999 local government elections, the PNM beat the UNC by two seats.
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