Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein and acting Minister of Local Government. – Photo by Marvin Hamilton
WHEN next voters go to the polls for local government elections, there will be two new districts to vote in, along with a few name changes.
In piloting the motion to approve the draft of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) (Local Government and Tobago House of Assembly) Order, 2021, on Wednesday, Minister of Local Government Kazim Hosein told Parliament about 22 changes.
“The changes recommended by the EBC in the tenth report involve adjusting two boundaries in the electoral districts of Chaguanas, Point Fortin, Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, Penal/Debe, Siparia and Mayaro/ Rio Claro.
“It also involves the addition of two electoral districts in the electoral districts of Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo and Mayaro/Rio Claro.”
In the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo corporation, the new district will be Couva West/Roystonia, and in the Mayaro/Rio Claro Corporation, the new electoral district will be Mayaro North.
The increased in the number of districts came as the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo electorate grew from 147,438 according to the EBC’s ninth report, to 152,032 in the tenth report. Under the EBC’s rules, Hosein said, the growth in the electorate allowed for an increase of one district. The same was done for Mayaro/Rio Claro district, which went from 29,511 to 30,141.
The additional districts mean the EBC now has 141 regions to oversee for the next local government elections.
Hosein said in keeping with the 25 per cent threshold, under which the electorate in one district is not exceeded or lesser than the number in another district by more than 25 per cent, there will be changes to the boundaries as well.
As a result, there will be four adjustments in the boundaries of the Chaguanas Corporation; eight in Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo; two in Point Fortin, Siparia and Penal/Debe; and four in the Mayaro/Rio Claro Corporation.
He added that there will also be name changes in several areas. Balmain/Calcutta Number 2 will be renamed Couva East/Balmain. The electoral district of California/Point Lisas will now be called Savonetta/Point Lisas, and Carli Bay/Calcutta Number 3/Mc Bean will now be Calcutta Number 3/Mc Bean.
The name change in the Mayaro/Rio Claro Corporation will be Mayaro South/Guayaguayare, formerly Mayaro/Guayaguayare. Rio Claro South/Cat’s Hill will be changed to Rio Claro South.
The motion, which was approved in the House of Representatives and is expected to get the all-clear in the Senate, also seeks to make both Diego Martin and Siparia boroughs.
“What better way to usher in the reform than to recognise these two new boroughs?” Hosein said, adding that this transformation would mean new opportunities for the areas, given their economic profiles.
Local government elections were supposed to be called by the end of March, but the terms of councillors were extended for a year last November.
Local government elections will now be called every four years, as opposed to three years, as was done previously.
This extension was challenged by social and political activist Ravi Balgobin-Maharaj, but the Appeal Court struck down the challenge in February.