I do not know the man other than from what I’ve read nor am I a member of the Peoples National Movement yet I feel compelled to offer these few words if only as a resident of the South West Peninsula.
When first I came to Point Fortin I had to traverse La Brea as it was the only route available. Fifty years later it still is. I also at that time patronized a row of young men peddling mangoes on the La Brea stretch. Today their descendants are still there on the same planks though the supporting drums may have rusted away.
While all this was happening (or not happening), the communities of Debe, Penal and Siparia have thrived, with unbelievable levels of commercial activity being evident as you drive through, all of this without any significant Government patronage or large-scale industrial development
What is it that makes adjacent communities so very different, that one prospers and the other remains stuck in apparent perpetual decline? The answers may be many, some more socially or politically unpalatable than others but let me perhaps suggest one.
Could it be accessibility?
A community that is isolated stagnates, incapable of accessing social, business and academic opportunities that may propel others to greater heights. You can now leave the Curepe interchange and get to Debe in thirty-five minutes whether your destination is the doubles vendor or the UWI Debe campus. You cannot repeat that feat from La Brea or Point Fortin, which brings me to the point of this letter.
The fortunes of La Brea and Point Fortin are inextricably linked both having experienced through the years the rise and fall of such entities as Shell, Trintoc, Petrotrin, Dunlop and Lake Asphalt. All such entities have expiry dates and even the great Atlantic would one day depart these shores hopefully later rather than sooner.
Our only hedge against this is to ensure that infrastructural development provides at least an opportunity for recovery and sustainability through diversification.
The proposed Point Fortin Highway has two spurs at Vessigny, one to La Brea and the other to Point Fortin designed to bring relief to both constituencies. This project remains a proposal until it is completed and I hold no breath. An early copy of the ‘Shell Topics’ shows the then Chief Minister Dr Eric Williams in 1958 shaking hands with the Shell Regional Manager on the proposed said highway. That was sixty-two years ago!
The fingers of blame for this unacceptable delay must point to the poor representation the region has seen over the past decades where successive Members of Parliament have seemed powerless to properly advocate the issues of their constituencies, appearing quite content to have their tongues tied.
With their contribution to the coffers of this land the constituencies of Point Fortin and La Brea deserve a greater voice at governmental level for as I have asked before, “what do the constituencies of Diego Martin East, West and Central bring to the economic table that we of the South West must go cap in hand pleading to these gentlemen for a handout be it road, hospital or fire station?”
The task at hand is for someone to step up to the plate and execute and unless there are underlying issues of which I am unaware, Robert Le Hunte, albeit perhaps through force of circumstance, should be up to the task.