Hundreds line up for jobs
By MIRANDA LA ROSE Thursday, October 18 2012
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SIGN UP: Local Government Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan (right) has St Paul Street, Port-of-Spain resident Ligann Telicia smiling during her interview f...
HUNDREDS of East Port-of-Spain and Laventille residents yesterday went to register for jobs as four Government ministries launched an employment programme intended to reduce crime, eliminate poverty and create employment in both short and long terms.
At the launch of the programme entitled “People and Projects for Progress” at the St Paul Community Centre in Port-of-Spain, residents cheered as National Security Minister Jack Warner highlighted different areas of the programme. The cheers intensified when he said the residents will work alongside the Army and police who will ensure their safety.
“If ever they were your friends, they are now. They are here to protect you, to ensure that you work in any street be it Duncan, Nelson or George,” Warner said.
The crowd applauded when Warner added: “Anyone hoping to extort money from you, will have to look out for the police and soldiers. That sort of criminality will become a thing of the past.”
He also announced, again to loud applause, that persons with criminal records will not be discriminated against and can register with the programme, warning however, if anyone commits a crime or is charged while in the programme they will be kicked out.
While the majority of residents welcomed the opportunity to get jobs, others had mixed views over the programme’s ability to improve their lives. Keisha Armstrong, councillor for Port-of-Spain South said she was pleased with the programme, but has some reservations.
“I feel happy for the opportunity provided for young people. They are focusing on the unemployable. But my concerns are for those who are employable and are without jobs.
“There are residents with CXC certificates and university degrees who are unemployed and that should be a major concern,” said Armstrong. A Laventille resident who declined to give his name, described the initiative as a waste of time and, “just another show.” He was vexed that the new initiative involved having to work with the URP.
“At the end of the day, they always give poor people URP jobs, which is like dog work. The wages in URP is not enough to sustain a family or keep poor people from committing crime,” he said angrily.
The ministries involved are National Security, Local Government, Planning and Housing. Present at the launch were Local Government Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan, Director of the East Port- of-Spain Development Company Limited Paul Solomon, who also represented the Planning Ministry, Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Kenrick Maharaj and Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
Warner said the programme will soon be taken to Carapo, Carenage, Maloney and the Marabella Trainline, areas which share problems similar to Laventille and South East Port-of-Spain.
He said a number of structural work will get underway in Duncan, Nelson, George and Prince streets where 383 units of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) are in need of repairs to emergency exits, roofs, stairways, lighting as well as external painting and installation of garbage receptacles.
Warner also announced day-care, homework centres and play areas for children will be established to help residents have controlled supervision for their children while they work in the programme.
“We shall do all these things,” Warner said, “So you can gain the respect you deserve and enjoy life. We shall give you the tools and resources to improve your life.” Rambachan said the programme was Government’s response to the cries of residents who had grown “fed-up” with the crime situation and who genuinely want to do something positive for their community.
The registration exercise, Rambachan said, is the beginning of the process to assess peoples’ skills and match them against job opportunities, “we intend to provide.” The URP Agriculture and URP Physical Infrastructure, which will be implemented on the programme, will be under the Local Government Ministry.
Under URP Agriculture, Rambachan said focus will be on a number of urban agricultural projects like tilapia farming. He said the programme’s training component will enable people to graduate out of the URP to other jobs in the public or private sector or become self-employed.
“The idea is not to keep people in bondage under URP or CEPEP. The idea is to emancipate people,” he said, “and to allow them to grow and become economically independent”.