Last update: 05-Dec-2013 3:57 pm
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Tight battle in the East
On October 21, voters will go to the polls to select their representatives for the various regional corporations in the local government elections. The event promises to be one of the most keenly contested elections in decades. Four parties—the ruling PP, Opposition PNM, MSJ and the recently-formed ILP— will go after the 14 regional corporations under the new proportional representation format. Beginning today, the Guardian will take a look at the corporations where, according recent polls, there is expected to be a tough race for the incumbents.
Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation
Though smaller in area than many municipalities, the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation is one of the most densely populated since it sits astride the massive urban sprawl that is the East-West Corridor. Tunapuna is the location of the administrative headquarters for the Regional Corporation and boasts a modern government complex that houses the district court and other public offices. The busy Eastern Main Road is the oldest thoroughfare as it follows the course of the Spanish Royal Road that was laid down more than 340 years ago. Tunapuna was once a small village that straggled along this road, but it gained importance in 1876 when it became a station of the Trinidad Government Railway’s line that connected Arima and Port-of-Spain.
With cocoa estates in the Northern Range and the south of the district under sugar cane, Tunapuna became a bright and prosperous town early in the 20th century, boasting a government school and police station. To the north in 1912, Benedictine monks from Brazil established a monastery which became the seminary of Mt St Benedict and later became an entire community onto itself, encompassing a seminary, secondary school, guest house and chapel. Piarco is the district that began as an aerodrome in the 1930s for a Venezuelan airline but roared into life as the airbase for Allied air forces during World War II. The slow-moving rural communities of St Helena, Kelly Village and Caroni were shocked into growth and development as thousands of soldiers and their equipment poured into the area and transformed it forever.
With the end of the war, Piarco remained an airport and was expanded to full international airport standards in the 1950s. It is now a vast complex and is one of the busiest airports in the Caribbean. The Churchill-Roosevelt Highway was constructed by the United States Army during the war and is the main artery in the region. Along the route there are extensive industrial estates which house a thriving light manufacturing industry. St Augustine was the former sugar plantation where the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture was founded in 1922 and later became the local campus of the University of the West Indies in 1960. The entire society and economy of the town revolves around the campus population.
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