Give us houses, jobs
By JULIEN NEAVES Thursday, August 22 2013
click on pic to zoom in
Thank you, PM: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar greets some of the women after a meeting with them and other residents of East Port-of-Spain at t...
Proper housing and sustainable jobs for the youths.
These were the two major issues East Port-of-Spain residents raised with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday during a public meeting at the South East Port-of-Spain Secondary School on Nelson Street. This was the Prime Minister’s second visit to East Port-of-Spain within a week following a recent spike in murders in the area, including the horrific shooting deaths of 16-year-olds Naim Antoine and his cousin Rasheeda Gomez. A third teenager, Sean Lewis Jr, 17, was also shot dead on the outskirts of the capital in Laventille.
In a brief interview, following the two hour meeting with the residents, which was closed to reporters, Persad-Bissessar said it was “a very passionate exchange”. Among those present were Natalie Rogers and her daughter Nariesha, the mother and sister of Naim, who Persad-Bissessar met on her first visit to the community, the day after his murder last Wednesday.
“Very few people spoke about crime per se, but these are the social issues I believe which so long causes crime within the area. Jobs and housing,” she said of yesterday’s meeting.
She reported a team from the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is talking with people who raised the housing issues. She said the jobs issue, however, will have to be addressed in a different way.
The Prime Minister promised to respond to the residents’ concerns at a later date, but she could not say what form that response would take and whether she would return. She noted there were more people who wanted to speak, but she left other Government officials to address those issues as she had two other meetings.
After the meeting, some of the women shook the Prime Minister’s hands, as they held signs declaring their love for her.
As the Prime Minister attempted to leave she was followed by residents Christine “Twiggy” Livia and Joy Win, who continued to speak with her. Livia told the media after the Prime Minister left “we want work for the young people. We don’t want CEPEP and URP alone.”
She noted that people needed real jobs and not $69 a day. Livia explained that many children were trying to apply for jobs, but were turned down because they were from East Port-of-Spain and had that stigma.
“It is not about no party politics. Is about helping the people right now,” she said.
On housing she called for refurbishment of HDC houses, reporting that some had eight and nine people living in unfit accommodations.
“The people is crying out for an apartment to get somewhere to live. They have their job, they willing to pay for their apartments,” she said.
Win told the media that she lived in an apartment with eight kids on Duncan Street.
“And if I take the media and them right now to look at that apartment they will see that vagrants wouldn’t even want to live there,” she said.
She called for the Government to “give the young people a chance” and create programmes where they could learn sports or skills like crochet and cooking from the residents themselves.
On general infrastructure Livia noted the school where the meeting was held was in dire need of repairs, and if it had rained yesterday the roof would have leaked on the people. She also said the Prime Minister should come a bit more often.
Most of the residents leaving the meeting were women and some middle-aged men.
One female resident said during the last General Elections the Prime Minister visited and made promises, but did not keep them, and she was not hopeful that she would fulfill any promises now. She called for the Prime Minister to give the community much more attention and listen to their needs.
Persad-Bissessar also spoke on increased police activities in East Port-of-Spain and noted that the police and army presence “has in fact brought down the violence to a certain extent”. Last week she announced that a joint police and army post would be established on Duncan Street where Naim and Rasheeda were killed.
She also commented on the release of half of the 90 persons held by police during an exercise in East Port-of-Spain on Sunday, which Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has described as reminiscent of the State of Emergency in 2011.
“There appears to be some kind of issues in terms of the way that the police have operated with taking people in. I will have to get a brief from them before I can comment, but certainly it is a matter we will be raising (today) when we meet with the Opposition,” she said.
The meeting is scheduled for 3.30 today at the Office of the Prime Minister.