By Janelle de Souza Monday, October 1 2012
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LISTENING: National Security Minister Jack Warner listens to some of the complaints told to him by Curtis McKenzie during a walkabout through Duncan a...
Poor lighting, asbestos in apartments, lack of support for single parents and unemployment were just a few of the concerns voiced by residents of Duncan and Nelson Streets in Port-of-Spain, when National Security Minister Jack Warner toured the area on Sunday afternoon.
Residents came out in the rain to meet with Warner and expressed their dissatisfaction with the conditions in which they live.
Elizabeth Greasley told Warner the single parents who worked needed support. She said she specialised in handicraft, and was willing to teach children, if he would turn one of the abandoned buildings in the area into a home work centre.
Curtis Mc Kenzie told the minister most of the people of the area were unemployed and they were abandoned by past Governments who did not upkeep the buildings. He said some of the young men in the community recently held a meeting where they discussed all the things that needed to be fixed and made a list. The list included projects such as fixing the yards, painting the buildings and fixing flooring, doors and windows.
Warner promised he would send for the list and organise a meeting with the men to see what could be done for them. Warner also promised residents jobs, and that he would return to the area tomorrow with the ministers of Works, Housing, Local Government, People and Social Development, and Sport, to hear their grievances and address their issues.
During the tour, Warner described the conditions he saw as “disappointing” and “scandalous.” He said the Government intended to correct the wrongs of the past, no matter who the people voted for. “This is the most neglect I have seen anywhere for a long time.
“Therefore we owe it to the people to let them know that we are a different kind of Government. I can’t speak for the past government but what I can see here is total neglect,” said Warner. “We have to bring this place to what it was before. The people have to get jobs, we shall find jobs for them.”
Initially, the jobs would be right in the community. Warner said the jobs, which would include painting buildings, paving yards, and fixing drains and roofs, would last residents six to nine months.
He said he would give them the means to start — material, equipment and training to do the work — and an income. He would then help them find sustainable employment.
Warner said, in order to fight crime, it was necessary to remove the conditions that cause crime, which was one of the reasons he would give residents jobs and fix their homes. He said fighting crime was not only about police and handcuffs, but giving people jobs, respect and dignity.
“The time has come for these people to live as one. This fighting has to stop — this Nelson Street against Duncan Street — it can’t make sense,” he said. His first move therefore, would be to plaster the bullet holes in the perimeter walls, to “remove the memories,” in order to put the past behind and “build a new era.”
Warner told the media he was instructed to visit the area by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who took an interest in the community. He said when she announced on Saturday at the pre-budget rally that Laventille was murder-free for almost three weeks, she asked him to follow up on areas in Laventille and to visit Duncan and Nelson Streets to see what could be done.
“I have never heard of any PM who has taken an interest in an area, as Mrs Persad-Bissessar, and she has sent me to do that. Therefore, I will be reporting to her directly and I am telling you, based on her track record, I am absolutely convinced that this place will be a better place,” he said. “This has nothing to do with elections. It’s about giving people dignity and respect where they are living.”
Warner said he also intended to visit Trou Macaque at 5 pm and Eastern Boys’ Government School at 8 pm on Tuesday, so that, on Thursday after Cabinet, he would report to the PM.