PM: WE WILL DELIVER
By Andre Bagoo Tuesday, January 15 2013
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday spent a hectic day in Tobago, seeking to shore up support for the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP)’s Ashworth Jack, as the final week of campaigning ahead of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election started.
The Prime Minister traversed forty-two miles, handing out certificates of title to land to ten Tobagonians in Canaan; launching the Tobago Natural Gas Receiving Facility at the Cove-Eco Industrial and Business Park, Lowlands; and opening an NP gas station at Roxborough. She was also last night due to address two political rallies put on by TOP at Mt Pleasant and Lowlands.
TOP political leader Ashworth Jack was at the Prime Minister’s side at all of these events.
Persad-Bissessar’s engagements came after the Prime Minister attended a church service at Plymouth and went on a walkabout at Mason Hall on Sunday, in a bid to woo the electorate to support Jack, whose party is a member of the coalition government.
The Prime Minister is due to return to Trinidad today ahead of tomorrow’s Parliament debate of the Tobago Bill 2013 but is expected to return to Tobago later this week ahead of Monday’s election.
At a ceremony to distribute certificates of land title held at the MIC Building, Milford Road, Canaan, the Prime Minister said her Government had delivered its promise in relation to dealing with the perennial problem Tobagonians face in getting legal documentation of their ownership of their land.
The Prime Minister presented 94-year-old John Parks with a title document he had waited more than five years for. John broke down in tears as he finally received title to the land he lives on at Cuyler Street, Scarborough Tobago. “God bless you and keep you and give you strength and give you health,” Parks told the Prime Minister before making the sign of the cross. The Prime Minister hugged him and replied, “God bless you.”
A total of nine certificates were given out by the Prime Minister. Also receiving title was Princess Cupid, who is blind and whose title certificate was in braille. Cupid, from Windward Road, Mt St George, had applied for her title five years ago.
The other certificates handed out were for: Rebecca Roberts, of Buccoo, who had applied eight years ago; Theodore Charles, of Carnbee, who had applied eight years ago; James Alfred E Yorke, of Bon Accord, who had applied 15 years ago; Denise and George Arnaud, of Plaisance Park, who applied nine years ago; Janice Mc Farlane, of Bon Accord, who had applied five years ago; Harriet Rogers, who applied four years ago, and Cohen Auditt O’Kello, who had applied in 2007.
“This issue of not having title has been an issue which has plagued Tobago for as long as I remember,” Persad-Bissessar said. “There is a long list of reasons why what we are doing here today could not have been done before. The laid-back custom and culture of the times gone by, staffing inadequacies, equipment inefficiencies, travel and logistics, have all been put forward as reasons.”
“But history has shown that what the real problem was the lack of will to get the job done,” Persad-Bissessar said. “Those who were previously in charge probably did not have the will to get it done. How else can we explain a problem dating back decades being solved in two years?”
She noted that some Tobagonians have been unable to get formal title to their land and this has deprived them of the ability to use land as collateral; buy and sell land; get Town and Country Planning approvals or formally pass on the land to their children.
“Yes, there is a monetary value to this but how can you truly belong to a country if you do not have ownership of the land of the country where you belong?”
“We were all brought here in shackles and had no land,” she said referring to the colonial past. “How is it that so many years after emancipation, how could it be that you could not get title?”
“These are things we promised and these are things we are delivering,” she said, just after noon.
At 2.29 pm, the Prime Minister opened the main valve to the NGC onshore Gas Receiving Facility at Lowlands, a facility which NGC says will supply gas to the power generation utility on the island.
“This is a new chapter in the economic development of Tobago,” Persad-Bissessar said. “It directly affects and benefits Tobago in many ways….and is significant from the point of view of energy security for Tobago.” At 4 pm, the Prime Minister then opened a new National Petroleum (NP) gas station at Roxborough. At that event, held at the gas station which is virtually next to the office of PNM Belle Garden East/Roxborough/Delaford candidate Hilton Sandy, a dozen protestors wearing PNM t-shirts held up placards, bearing messages such as, “In defence of Hilton Sandy and Tobago”.
The placards came after a similar protest on Sunday at Plymouth where the Prime Minister had attended a church service.
Addressing the audience gathered for the opening of the NP station, Persad-Bissessar said, “Today we have had a very hectic day.” She said the new gas station was possibly just the start of further development.
“Having a gas station is just one thing that we can do,” she said. She urged members of the audience to tune in to tomorrow’s Parliament debate.
“I ask you to please tune in so you can listen to what will be a historic debate,” she said. After the formalities, Persad-Bissessar mingled with the attendees, chipping with a choir that had been invited to sing.
Speaking with reporters at the NGC event at Lowlands, the Prime Minister said the TOP had, “more work to do” in terms of its campaign.