Chief Sec: Multipurpose facilities under-used

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Residents listen to presentations from THA officials at a Lambeau/Lowlands town hall meeting at the Lowlands Multipurpose facility, Tobago, on Tuesday. PHOTO COURTESY THA –

TOBAGO House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Farley Augustine is calling on the Division of Community Development, Youth Development and Sport to make all Tobago’s multipurpose facilities available to villagers.

He was addressing residents on Tuesday at the Executive Council district town hall meeting in the Lambeau/ Lowlands electoral district. The meeting was held at the Lowlands Multipurpose Facility.

Augustine gave the division until March 2024 to make this a reality. He said the unavailability of the facilities to the villagers was a pet peeve of his, as the facilities were underutilised.

“Tobago has moved from two extremes – once upon a time, village councils had keys and it was almost like one or two people owned the whole centre. We even had people living in centres and had trouble to throw them out. We even had to beg people for access to centres and beg, beg, beg and all kind of stories.”

He said the THA subsequently built and remodelled the centres, calling them multipurpose facilities and brought them under the ambit of the division. He said at that point it moved from being hard to get access to the centres from the villagers to being hard to get access from the division.

“I ain’t agree with none of that – the centres belong to the community. The communities have to use the centres.”

He was not happy at having to repair the facilities often while they remained under-used.

“What am I fixing them for and they’re not being used as sufficiently as they should be used? I want to know that I must change a window because some young person come in here and kick a ball and break the glass.

“I’m not saying that they should come in here and kick a ball and break the glass, but the damage occurred to the centre because people are using the centre.

“I want to see young people come into the centre playing table tennis, they must come here and play their all fours, whatsoever. They must keep their bazaars in the centres as long time. They must come here and have their youth group meetings, churches must come here and keep their training programmes and cooking classes.”

The centres, he said, must be open more than they are closed. He said the division was working on a policy to hand back the centres to the villages.

“If by the end of March, centres are not given back to communities, I would publicly come and tell communities, ‘Come with a pigfoot, take out the lock, change the lock and take charge of the centres them.’

“Because quite frankly it’s stupidness. What centres doing in the division in town? It doesn’t make sense. Why, when you need a centre key to gain access to a facility in a community, you have to drive from wherever place to come and open a place? That doesn’t make any sense.”

The facilities, he said, are for communities.

“We cannot move from one extreme to a next extreme. If centres require repairs because of constant use, that is to be expected. We can’t vex if you come in here and some little child bat and ball and break a glass – that is what the centre is for.

“What we want them to do, go on the streets and sell weed and coke and find guns and shoot up each other? I prefer to change a window and fix a bulb than to bury young people. We’re burying too much young people because of crime.”

“Too much of them outside. Too much of them outside the centre, too much of them under a streetlight, and when they’re ready they throw up stones and break the bulb because they don’t want anyone to see what they’re doing at the corner of the street.

“Make the community facilities available.”