Al-Rawi rolls out agenda for new ministry

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

MY PLANS: Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi speaks at a press conference on Thursday at his ministry in Kent House, Long Circular Road, Maraval. PHOTO BY ANGELO MARCELLE –

MINISTER of Local Government and Rural Development Faris Al-Rawi rolled out plans for his ministry on Thursday which included surveying of roads for potholes for future repairs and maintenance, decriminalisation of offences pertaining to vendors, streamlining waste management and expanding and retooling the municipal police to include a Gender Based Violence Unit.

“Our focus for the last 21 days has been to ensure that we define and let people into the understanding what local government. The population may be surprised to know that local government is responsible for 80 per cent of the road networks in this country,” he said.

He said that on Thursday, Cabinet approved a national clean-up campaign and survey exercise

“The last campaign was in 2017. On this occasion there is a co-ordinated exercise with the Ministry of Works and Transport, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government.

“We are engaging in a cluster approach across all of TT in a national clean-up campaign. At the same time we are doing a surveying exercise so that we could look at the state and condition of our roadways, embankments, slopes, issues of landslips, vacant lots, play parks, recreation centres and markets and public conveniences,” he said.

He added that interviews for more than 3,000 municipal police officers are underway and with the introduction of gender based violence units the municipal police will be able to contribute to the reduction of incidents of gender based violence.

Al-Rawi said with the introduction of policies to decriminalize certain offences on vending, the municipal police’s capacity to tackle crime on the ground level will be improved.

“What should the municipal police be doing? Do you wish them to be patrolling and policing, or do you want them running down vendors?”

Speaking on the condition of the roads, Al-Rawi said the survey would enable the ministry to conduct data-driven exercises on road repairs and maintenance.

He added that the removal of tariffs on bitumen, one of the main inputs in paving roads, would assist in a program of patching and road repairs, expected to begin in the coming months.