|‘GREAT TOBAGO LIES’ |
Newsday Tobago Desk Sunday, January 8 2017
The battle to break the People’s National Movement’s rule over Tobago began on Thursday night when one of the opposition challengers, Tobago Forwards, laid out its Blueprint for victory at a political meeting in Scarborough, the island’s capital.
Political Leader of the Tobago Forwards, Christlyn Moore’s opening salvo was a charge that “great lies” have been told to Tobagonians over the last 16 years as she launched the party’s Blueprint on Milford Road in Scarborough to a lively gathering of supporters.
Moore took time to pay respects to Tobagonians she acknowledged as truly great leaders of the island.
“We know that we have had great leaders in Tobago,” she said. “We pay respect to Dr Winston Murray who recently passed away __ a true visionary and a champion for internal self-government. __ a great man.
“We pay respect also to the late ANR Robinson, lawyer, cabinet minster, Prime Minister, President, Tobago’s finest son. A great man,” she continued. “We pay our respects to the lion, Hochoy Charles, the man who authored and built the last set of roads across Tobago.
A visionary, a man of action, a great man.” Focussing the rest of her speech on the word “greatness”, not to refer to noble men or deeds now, but rather misdeeds, Moore bashed mismanagement of the island’s affairs over the last 16 years and said the Tobago Forwards Blueprint “is meant to wash away the blight of that kind of greatness and to bring us to the Tobago of the now: not the Tobago of future, the Tobago of the now.” The People’s National Movement led by Chief Secretary Orville London has been in control of the Assembly for the last 16 years.
Moore charged that Tobago has seen “great” under-employment with 70 percent of the island’s labour locked into the low wages of CEPEP and URP –$500 a fortnight over this period.
“We have seen “great” victimisation with people being evicted from housing lists if they not red, can’t get a job if you not red, can’t get a grant or pension or gratuity or scholarship if you not wearing red,” she added.
“Over the last 16 years, Tobago has seen “great” under-performance with 350 houses built in 16 years __ only 21 houses per year, great cost overruns. The cultural complex -almost $1 billion in overruns, the library __ $270 million in overruns, the financial complex __ $185 m in overruns,” she charged.
Moore claimed that “Assemblymen making small money spending great, great sums __ one buy a great boat, one buy a great Range Rover, one buy he madam a great house.” She told supporters that over the last 16 years, “great lies have been told to Tobago and about Tobago.” “We have been told that $500,000 was spent on the Brian Lara Cricket Complex in Tobago. You hear lie, that is a great lie; that $1 million was spent on the Bacolet Aquatic Centre, you hear lie, that is a great lie; that $500 million was spent on a crematorium, you hear lie, that is a great lie; $1million was spent on an abattoir in Kendall and $1 million on one in Hope, you hear lie, that is a great lie.” “They are great, ladies and gentlemen,” she added, “Great liars, great fraudsters, great thieves, great foolers, great wasters.” On the Tobago Forwards’ Blueprint, which she described as “the blueprint for change”, Moore said it was intended to address job creation, housing, economic growth and sustainability .
The Tobago Forwards, Moore promised, will build over 800 homes in its first term, using a public private partnership (PPP) model and that this will create over 3,000 jobs in the near term, in the skilled and semi-skilled sector.
Areas she listed for housing developments included Adelphi Estate, Mason Hall, Roxborough Housing Estate, James Street, Goodwood, Canaan Bon Accord Housing Estate Northward into the La Toure Estate; in Bethel, at the Speyside Housing Estate, Castara and Palatuvier and Sou Lands Estate.
“It will be the driver of the local economies in all the communities it which it is rolled out and will be the new engine of Tobago’s development,” she said, She said construction of Aledphi and Roxborough houses would begin in the first three months of a Tobago Forwards term.
“We have heard about a 10-house per village plan. We say that is rubbish,” Moore said. “We have seen the “great” 21-house per year plan.
More rubbish. We say that that is a day-care type approach to a university size problem. We say Tobago has been creeping for far too long and that its time to run.” “Eight hundred houses in four years, 3,000 new jobs in the housing sector in four years. That’s the Blueprint. That is your voice. That will be your victory,” Moore declared.
On the plans contained in the Tobago Forwards Blueprint, Moore identified upgrade and building of the roads network to connect growing communities and ease traffic congestion, detailing specific plans in specific areas for 100 miles of roadworks in four years, and which she said would create 1,500 new jobs in the Tobago Forwards new term.
She also outlined the party’s plans for tourism, not before noting: “The PNM has prevailed over the great disaster of tourism in Tobago. After spending more than $500 million in marketing, international arrivals are down by 80 percent, notwithstanding growth in the sector in the Caribbean by seven percent.
She claimed, “Cruise ship arrivals have fallen from 50 to 38.
Tobago occupancy is down to 41 percent notwithstanding that in the rest of the Caribbean occupancy is 69 percent. In the high season this year, Tobago hotels were at under 10 percent occupancy. A “great” failure of leadership, a “great” “disappointment.” The Tobago Forwards tourism blueprint would address the industry in two major parts - enhancing the product and improving our sites and attractions, she said as she detailed the party’s plans to develop the industry.
The party planned to announced blueprints on other sectors __ Education, Health, Sport Tourism and Energy __ at meetings before the January 23 election.