Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says a major $1.6 billion transformation is coming for San Fernando which will make the city “unrecognisable” in the next four to five years.
Speaking at the opening of the upgraded $131 million Skinner Park in San Fernando yesterday, Rowley expressed joy that the facility was finally open just in time for Calypso Fiesta, which will take place this weekend.
The Park was closed for repairs in 2019 and faced multiple construction setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Dr Rowley said now that Skinner Park is reopened, more projects are on stream for the city to the tune of $ 1.6 billion.
Explaining why the city was being given this hefty financial injection, Rowley said since the restructuring of Petrotrin there had been a huge economic fallout.
“Granting San Fernando that expenditure was not accidental. It was because we recognised that the restructuring of Petrotrin would have had a negative effect on San Fernando and the wider community. We had to do something in the San Fernando district so that those who were negatively affected had some kind of relief,” he said.
The Prime Minister added: “I dare tell you that I look forward to the next four to five years in San Fernando, where you will not recognise the city as it grows as one of the fastest in this country.”
Dr Rowley said there were never enough resources to do everything at once.
“Decisions to spend public money like this comes after discussions,” he said.
“We have been saying to this country that we will try to do more with less,” he added.
The PM said T&T was “on a continuous journey of development and every project was prioritised.”
He told the students gathered for the function to use their youth to work hard and be productive in building their country.
“This investment is for you. This country has been good to us. Let nobody tell you that this country is not the best place in the world.
“There are other nations with more money and bigger armies and air force but you are still a second-class citizen there. But in Trinidad you are first class,” he added.
Despite the high crime rate, Dr Rowley slammed those who advocated that “Trinidad was not a real place.”
“While there are a lot of things to be critical about, you must accept criticism and be critical where criticism is required. But let us not do it in a way to give the impression that all fall down,” he warned.
He added: “And then you have a few idiots who talking about whether Trinidad is a real place. Every time I read that, I wish they end up in Ukraine. You have a country like T&T, where diplomats will tell you that being placed in T&T as a mission officer is one of the best postings in the world, notwithstanding the nonsense that is going on where everybody is trying to kill everybody else.
“We do have a small minority that has armed themselves and have made themselves national nuisances largely supported and defended by their families,” Dr Rowley said.
Meanwhile, San Fernando West MP Faris Al-Rawi said 11 projects are underway in the city and this was because of Dr Rowley’s vision.
“The Prime Minister stood by the Dare to Dream vision. This site is one of 11 enterprises of the Udecott project for San Fernando redevelopment. Those projects total $1.599 billion of investment in San Fernando. That represents employment, livelihood, beautification,” Al-Rawi said.
He said the widened waterfront, the Ramsaran walkover, the reopening of Hatters Panyard, the cleared Ministry of Works site, the high-rise buildings and Plaza San Carlos were part of the project.
He explained that it took six years to get environmental clearance from the Environmental Management Authority to conduct the widening of the road along Lady Hailes from wharf, but this is now going to move full speed ahead.
The newly renovated Skinner Park will be able to accommodate 6,000 patrons, with 3,000 in the main stand and 1,500 in two bleachers.
The amenities in the main bleacher include concession stands, facilities for home and away teams, meeting and conference rooms, and VIP boxes.
The cycling track has been rebuilt and the football field was reoriented to a North-South position which meets the minimum FIFA standards.