CHARLES KONG SOO
Rising out of the ashes of the sugar industry that helped to build the economy of Princes Town after it was closed in 2003, the town has emerged as one of South's major shopping towns and a haven for bargain hunters. Sugar plantation workers have given way to the rise of the merchant class and entrepreneurs.
The heart of the capital now usually has grinding traffic as shoppers patronise a mix of family-owned businesses, a super-store, supermarkets, furniture stores, household and variety stores, small shops, and conglomerate franchise names.
Businesses in the sprawling town are now forced to spread to the outskirts and outlying areas of the town.
The area also has tremendous potential for tourism and recreational development with attractions including the Devil's Woodyard, Triveni Hindu Temple, Ram Leela, the Christopher Columbus' landing site, and the Moruga Spring Bridge.
Princes Town MP Barry Padarath said "When you speak with members of the business sector they say Princes Town has outgrown itself. The traffic congestion is horrendous, many businesses are looking to expand and are now moving out of Princes Town. There is simply no room in the town area, with its number of old buildings and small stores.
"With respect to connectivity, if the San Fernando to Mayaro Highway was built, it would open up many operations, not only for commercial activities but also new entrepreneurs to invest in different sectors of Princes Town."
He said the highway would connect the town to the rest of the country. Padarath said he was almost certain the highway would attract economic growth, a resurgence and infusion of life back into communities that can be done with economic activity. Princes Town would become a hub for economic activity.
The highway project was part of the PP government's plan if they had received another term in office. He said he has spoken to Transport Minister Rohan and the Government about it.
Padarath said this would open up several rural communities like Mayaro and Naparima and jobs will be created. He said many times people had to leave homes from Rio Claro at 3 am to reach Princes Town because of the deplorable road conditions.
Padarath said he was looking forward to either this government or its successor making it a reality.
Padarath said he would most definitely like to see a cultural sporting centre in Princes Town, but the two main priorities were the highway and school.
Padarath said residents were very family-oriented, as a rural community, generations of family values would have been traditionally passed down.
He said the neighbouring communities as well will be truly appreciative as Guardian Media hosts its community games in Princes Town on Sunday.
Padarath said that was the way they had been brought up, the Sancho Cricket Ground, where the event will take place, was an area well known for cricket and sports.
He said it was a mainstay and kept the community connected and continued to be the lifeblood of the area, producing several noted players such as West Indies cricketers Dave Mohammed, Prior Jones, and Joseph Small.