Local Government Ministry to launch reporting app

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Faris Al-Rawi. – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

MINISTER of Rural Development and Local Government Faris Al-Rawi has announced the upcoming release of an app to allow citizens to report local government problems affecting them called Local TT.

Speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Disaster Risk Management Conference opening ceremony, on June 3 at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Port of Spain, Al-Rawi said Local TT will allow citizens to report local issues directly by uploading photos and descriptions of local problems, creating an open-source information platform.

He said the platform will use a traffic-light system to keep the public informed about the status of their projects

“Red light means nothing has happened yet, yellow light means the project is pending, and green light means it’s ongoing.”

Al-Rawi urged citizens to actively participate in reporting local issues.

“If someone is doing something sketchy, say something,” he encouraged, highlighting the need for community vigilance and involvement.

Acknowledging the significant investments in government operations, Al-Rawi said Trinidad and Tobago is at a point where many believe everything requires governmental intervention.

However, he said, the government should act as a facilitator rather than a sole provider.

Drawing on the example of Carnival, Al-Rawi said, “The government facilitates the holidays. The government spends on infrastructure in certain places.

“The government clears the roadways, gives the licence to sell on the road for a couple of days, bar licences, food licences, block the pavement licences, noise variation licences. But the private sector throws the best fetes.”

“We spend a lot of money on the government. Trinidad and Tobago has lost sight of common sense, and the reporting mechanism isn’t there. To achieve effective governance, we must share information.”

This initiative seeks to enhance transparency and accountability, ensuring data-driven decisions are made efficiently.

He called for co-operation and understanding that taxpayer dollars have limitations.

For instance, he said, $24 million is invested into San Fernando.

“When we looked at how much a retaining wall cost for a singular house, it was nearly $7 million.

“So if we spend the money on that one retaining wall, we have to make a decision as to what we’re not going to spend on somewhere else.”

“Local TT therefore allows a two-way conversation for the government to speak to cost and consequence.”

Al-Rawi said a degree of education is required and called on citizens to use their “common sense.”

He criticised current practices in urban areas like Port of Spain, San Fernando and Chaguanas, particularly the roofing systems.

“If you live in a flood-prone area, don’t occupy ground floor accommodation ‘cause it’s going to flood.”

Underscoring the importance of education and volunteerism, Al-Rawi highlighted the Hunters Search and Rescue Team NGO led by Vallence Rambharat.

“He has spent a great deal of his life volunteering. This entity forms an example of how private sector co-operation looks. Movements like scouts, cadets are breeding grounds for social volunteerism.”

“This,” he said,“is the most impactful form of contribution and commitment to the (UN) sustainable development goals.”

He called for integrating more impactful efforts into the school curriculum, suggesting that “hours traded for certification” could instil a sense of civic duty and responsibility among students.