Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Living it up in Chaguanas
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 owing to the fact that there will be four parties—the ruling PP, Opposition PNM, MSJ and the recently formed ILP—going after the 14 regional corporations under the new proportional representation format.
Continuing today, the T&T Guardian takes a look at the corporations where, according to recent polls, there is expected to be a tough race for the incumbents.
Chaguanas Borough Corporation residents are living the good life. The constituents of the borough have very few problems to deal with and the issues that do arise are at least better than how things were before. At least that is what they would have you believe. Housewives, shopkeepers, farmers, labourers and businessmen all had the same things to say when approached by the T&T Guardian recently.
“Things in the borough are good. We don’t have flooding to deal with like other places and we get water two days for the week,” said Gita, a market vendor and resident of Chase Village for the past 30 years. Gita, like a lot of residents in the borough, said she was not very interested in the October 21 local government elections. She said she sees the green, red and yellow jerseys worn by political party supporters, the banners hanging from the outside walls of business places and ignores them.
“Things are a lot better now than they were before. I have nothing to complain about,” she said. The borough, 11 miles south of Port-of-Spain, is home to 83,516 people. Most of the residents who spoke to the T&T Guardian said they were not interested in local government elections. Those who claimed to be interested had a distinct affinity for the colour green. In Felicity, residents said they were voting for the candidate from Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party (ILP).
“Jack do some things in this area and I can tell you that the people here going green, said 60-year-old Raj as he sold bundles of bodi to vehicles from the sidewalk on Cacandee Road. “I won’t tell you who I am voting for but if you look, my house is painted green eh.” Another Felicity resident, Prudence Rajkumar, said she would vote in the election but could not name any of the candidates. Rajkumar in fact did not even know who the last councillor for the area was.
“I don’t know nah. I know I see Jack here plenty. He comes to the school and the people here see him all the time.” One shopkeeper along Munroe Road, which borders Chaguanas in the north, said she was happy with the Chaguanas Borough Corporation’s work in her area. “For the past two years the roads have been paved and they fixed the pavements.” Another shopkeeper, Nifa Khan, said she was glad local government elections had come, as elections usually meant work would be done to sway the residents’ votes.
“They paved this road two days before the by-election for Chaguanas West,” said the resident, referring to the July 29 Chaguanas by-election which Warner won. In fact, a lot of the work done in the borough was initiated only recently as Warner’s ILP and the incumbent People’s Partnership fought for constituents’ votes during the said by-election. Angie Heeralal, a Cunupia vendor, said she had no complaints, as her area had seen development in recent years.
“They fixed the roads. We get water, electricity and we don’t flood,” she said. Heeralal was one of many residents who had never met her councillor. “I don’t know who that person is. The only person I saw here was Jack (Warner).” There were signs of work in progress in the borough. Pavements were being built along Munroe Road, stands were being constructed at a play park in Cunupia and some empty lots seemed to have been recently maintained.
According to 56-year-old Prince of Enterprise, though, the work being done has never been balanced. “They don’t do nothing. They have never done nothing for we. You see that park right there?” Prince pointed to a small community park with a fence decorated by a bright red People’s National Movement (PNM) banner inviting residents to vote for the party’s representative.
“I have to cut the grass in that park. If I don’t cut the grass, nobody will do it. When they (corporation workers) do come, they would start work and leave it unfinished.” Prince said the Enterprise area had been ignored by both the PNM and the United National Congress (UNC). Despite a voiced lack of faith in either party he said he still intended to vote. “I will be voting. I want to support good governance and for this local government election I want somebody with principles,” he said.
“I am not going to vote cause I like a certain party. If I think he could give me what I want for my community I will vote for Jack.”
Chaguanas and its districts fell under the Caroni County Council up until 1990. Since the creation of the Chaguanas Borough Corporation, it has been controlled by the UNC. In the borough’s first local government elections in 1992, the UNC won six seats while the PNM won two. In 1996, the UNC won all of the seats in the corporation, with the PNM winning one in 1999. During the 2003 local government elections the PNM managed take three of the borough’s eight districts from the UNC.
That year, PNM councillors were elected in the areas of Edinburgh/Longdenville, Enterprise North and Enterprise South. At the last local government elections in 2010, the UNC won six seats, while the COP and PNM won one each.
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