$11m Malabar pool opened – PM: More $$ coming for social programmes

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa-Cudjoe, left, Prime Minster Dr Keith Rowley, D’Abadie/O’Meara MP Lisa Morris-Julian, Minister of Education Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and Arima mayor Balliram Maharaj at the official opening of the D’Abadie/Malabar Community Swimming Pool on Subero Street, Malabar Phase 2, Arima on Friday. – Angelo Marcelle

Government opened an $11 million Malabar swimming pool on Friday.

Speaking to a group of people poolside, the Prime Minister said the cost of the pool, which in other areas such as Soogrim Trace has shown great results in engaging youth who would have otherwise been pulled into gangs and gang activity, is considerably cheaper than the cost of dealing with criminal activities.

“Every murder case that goes to the Privy Council is upwards of a million dollars minimum just to argue the case,” Dr Rowley said.

“The pool is a 15 metre x 25 metre, six-lane training size pool, which is 1.2 metres deep on the shallow end and 2.2 metres deep on the deep end.”

The facility also has a pool deck with a granolithic flooring finish.

It has three external showers and a seating capacity of 60 spectators. Additionally, the administrative building features male and female changing rooms and washrooms, showers, an office, a janitor’s closet and an instructor’s room, inclusive of storage.

The facility also has a concession area, a pump room with separate chemical storage areas and parking for 21 cars. There are also considerations for people with disabilities with two handicapped parking spaces and a separate washroom.

Construction took 300 days, from January 30 – December 12.

The Prime Minister said social programmes will be assessed in 2024 to better reallocate resources to programmes that were having the best effect on the nation.

“In 2024, we are going to be doing reviews on some of these programmes, not to take away the expenditure from the public, but to redirect it in a more efficient and effective way,” Rowley said.

In his feature address at the Malabar pool, Rowley said programmes such as the pool programme, in which four new pools were built, are having a positive effect on communities. He lauded the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and Coast Guard for their assistance in training people at the pool.

“It warms my heart when I go to a place like Soogrim Trace and see our elderly people in a programme in the pool doing callisthenics under the guidance of the people of the Coast Guard, the Defence Force, and of course, young people who may otherwise have been distracted the arms of never-do-wells finding their way to our community and being mentored by officers of the TT Defence force and coast guard. So, ladies and gentlemen, this model is working.”

He said, however, that as these programmes expand, more resources would reasonably be needed to maintain its quality.

“You can’t increase the number of pools as we are doing, increase the number of people who are participating under their stewardship and the mentioning and expect that they will do well on the same budget that they started off with when it was Soogrim pool alone.”

He also called on parents to engage in sustained parenting, saying if shortcomings in parenting and difficulties in the school system are turned around that, by itself, could result in a significant reduction in crime.

“Children don’t just bring themselves up.

“Talent doesn’t just appear and float to the top. If you want cream and you want milk, you will have to mind a cow, and one of the biggest failings in this country is the absence of appropriate, sustained parenting and the difficulty in our school systems.

“I am saying that if we turn that around a little bit, or a lot, that will reflect itself in our reduction in some of the deleterious activities that take place in our community and a significant amount of crime on a daily basis.”


Not just a pool, but an opportunity

MP for D’Abadie/O’Meara Lisa Morris-Julian said the Malabar pool was not just a pool but an opportunity to change lives.

“This pool is a promise – a promise of healthier days ahead, of laughter echoing through the waters, of friendships flourishing and of youthful spirits thriving.”

“It’s a source of inspiration, motivation and empowerment, especially for our youth. This pool is where dreams will take shape, where young minds will be fuelled with ambition and a drive for success.”

She said she can envision the pool bringing the community, families and neighbours together to support each other in their wellness journeys.

“This pool will be a hub of energy, a place where we redefine what it means to lead a vibrant and healthy lifestyle.”

Morris-Julian said it would also have a great impact on the elderly people in the community.

“This pool will be a sanctuary for them. It will be a place for them to stay active, connect with others and revel in the joy of the water. It will be a space where generations will come together, bridging gaps and forming bonds that will last a lifetime.”

She said opening the pool facility is a leap for the constituency, which would be sure to make a big splash in a world of possibilities.

She lauded Rowley for prioritising the development of welfare in her constituency and for “fixing what Life Sportt broke.”

Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe said the pools were having positive effects in the areas where they were built despite negative comments from naysayers.

“In 2018, we had only six pools, many of them were not functioning. Now, we can boast that we now have ten pools in four years.”

“The Soogrim trace pool in Laventille was the first one.”

“I remember when we had set out to build it, the naysayers were saying it would be a case of crime, and we will show up one day, and there would be blood in the pools. Ladies and gentlemen, this is three-four years later and gets nothing what success stories coming out of the Soogrim Trace, Laventille pool.”

Aside from the Malabar and Soogrim trace pools, the government has built pools in Maloney and Morvant.