Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has advised the people of East Port of Spain and Sea Lots to seize the opportunity to move out “of the squalor” if this becomes necessary to facilitate the development of Port of Spain.
He stressed that any such development would inevitably embrace them and improve their economic and social well-being.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the opening of the Diego Martin South Community Centre yesterday.
Rowley also took some shots at the Opposition Leader.
“Let me say this evening to Kamla Persad-Bissessar—time to stop the dog whistle foolishness of race and division in Trinidad and Tobago.”
He was responding to Persad-Bisessar stating that he was developing only certain parts of Trinidad and Tobago.
In that context he referred to the San Fernando waterfront development project and the Moruga fishing port and agro-processing facility.
“You would have thought that as the prime minister who spent the five largest budgets in the history of this country, who raided out $16 billion from the NGC kitty... she would have kept quiet when another prime minister comes after and is threatening to do with far less than she squandered in her five-year term, that she would have kept quiet. But, no,” he said.
Rowley also took on sceptics who described the Port of Spain rejuvenation plan as a “pipe dream” and who questioned why it was being done in the midst of Covid-19.
He said he didn’t mention the plan before the election because people would have dismissed it as an election gimmick.
But, he stressed, the work had been in fact commenced long before the election and Covid.
On the issue of the people of Sea Lots and East Port of Spain, the Prime Minister said the Government had not identified putting anybody out.
“But,” he said, “all those who know of methods of making omelette without breaking eggs, let me know please.”
He said the biggest conversation in some quarters was some “moronic” expressions which involved telling the people of East Port of Spain that the Government was coming to move them.
The Prime Minister said he wanted to tell the people of East Port of Spain if they are asked to move, please do.
“If you don’t move, that means you will stay in the squalor for the next 40 years. You might like that, but your children wouldn’t like it. And I will say the same thing to Sea Lots. If this PNM Government comes and tells you to move, it is because it wants to improve your condition and to make the best of the location that you now occupy.”
Rowley said he was amazed to see a Member of Parliament with a social survey report “trying to use it as a political battering ram to tell people who are to benefit, people who are earmarked to benefit from the findings of the social survey, that this is a document that come in their mailbox, that says Government coming to take your land. Let us in 2020 and more so in 2021 ignore that kind of folly and focus on what can be done in this country, Covid or no Covid.”
Rowley noted that there was good news of two companies preparing a Covid vaccine.
He stressed, however, that that didn’t mean the vaccine would be here next week, next month or for Carnival, “because there is no Carnival”.
But he said the work of improving the lot of the people of this country must go on, Covid or not.
He told the people of Diego Martin they had a nexus to Port of Spain and therefore a stake in the redevelopment plan for Port of Spain because many of the residents of Diego Martin worked, shopped and children attended schools in the Port of Spain area.
He said the regional corporation has already agreed and has advanced to the Cabinet that Diego Martin should become the next borough. “Steps are being taken to accept the recommendations, so in 2021 there will be two new boroughs—the borough of Diego Martin and the borough of Siparia.