Lopinot/Bon Air West constituents: Gonzales better than previous MPs but can do more

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Residents Reecia Wilson and Sparkle Payne speaks with Newsday’s senior journalist Sean Douglas, Lopinot Road, Lopinot on Sunday. – Jeff Mayers

THE general feeling among a handful of constituents of Lopinot/Bon Air West MP Marvin Gonzales was that the Minister of Public Utilities was often heard to be around various parts of the constituency, but they needed help to fix a local drain, although this was not under the MP’s remit but that of the local council.

Newsday met residents of Lopinot Road on Sunday.

Residents said Gonzales was seen throughout the constituency distributing toys at Christmas and at times during the ongoing pandemic giving out hampers.

Reecia Wilson said she had been at her current address for ten years and before that had lived higher up the road.

“For the time I’m living here he has been one of the more present MPs we have had. Even if he isn’t doing perfect, he’s doing a lot better than the persons who were here before, because at least we see him sometimes.

The construction site of the Surrey Village Community Centre, Lopinot Road, Lopinot. – Jeff Mayers

“I myself have got hampers from him. Even for Christmas, in the pandemic he still came and gave out the gifts. I saw he gave out hampers as well. I’d say he’s doing a pretty god job.

“I would like to see him a bit more often. For Christmas he was here, but on a regular… We see pictures with him in Lopinot but on this road we haven’t really seen him a lot.”

She highly approved of Gonzales’ plans for youth programmes. “We have a lot of youths on this road alone and they are friendly youths who are not into any gangs or anything like that. They would love programmes they could follow through. I have cousins that love fixing cars and like mechanics. So things like that. If they have that coming, the youths would appreciate that.”

Wilson hoped Gonzales would visit to see the need for a drain. She viewed him as being very approachable and not standoffish.

Sparkle Payne confirmed Gonzales had delivered toys for children at Christmas. She said she was not one to approach officialdom for help, disliking a lot of run-around.

However she wanted help for a 200-plus foot drain running through the yards of herself and several neighbour.

“The most important thing I’d like them to do is work on that drain.” Payne said countless political representatives had visited to take notes on the drain but nothing has ever been done.

“The PNM came, UNC came, ILP came, everybody came, but they didn’t do anything.”

A drain with stagnant water at the back of Lopinot resident’s house. – Jeff Mayers

Winston Sutherland said he “did not know Gonzales.” He sought help to build a drain for a water course of waste water that was bothering several residents by running through their yards, resulting from a diversion of water from higher ground in Bon Air West. “Every time a councillor comes here it is just for your vote but you don’t see them after elections.”

Asked about the area’s past MPs, Sutherland said he had never seen any of them either.

His son, Sheldon Sutherland, was fed up of mosquitoes produced by a build up of water created by people backfilling their properties

“It surprised me that they (Gonzales) passed for Christmas and they give out thing. (Normally) they never come to Lopinot Road.”

Sheldon said only recently was their road paved over with asphalt. He said, “Ask him (Gonzales) when last he come out and took a walk to meet the people.”

Winston said, “They do nothing here. I only see him (Gonzales) on television.”

Sheldon complained about an under-use of local community centres. “Ask them how many children get to use a community centre. It’s only protocol and protocol.

“The big man (prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley) will say its monsters we are creating but some of them (youngsters) don’t even have a mother and father, and they need help. You understand? Ask the community centre what they are doing. They have to help people. You can’t just pass for Christmas in a vehicle and give out gifts. It have plenty things need doing around.”

Sheldon said the “big boys” must not be too proud to come to meet the people.

Chad Vieira said, “I saw them up here. There’s always room for improvement, such as the roads need fixing, but instead of looking at the glass half-empty I like to look at the glass half-full.

“We got lights. Personally, not talking politics, I find they are doing an okay job.

“Everybody has an opinion. I like to be on a neutral ground. Contentment is Heaven’s wealth. I like to be content.”

Chad Vieira of Soap Hill, Lopinot Road, Lopinot – Jeff Mayers

Vieira said people had to remember the Government had to run a whole country not just cater to one individual’s wishes.

“You can’t please everyone. But at the same time, to me he seems to be working and is doing things, otherwise we would not have got street lights.”

Vieira said the street lighting was a big step, helping residents feel more safe in view of many robberies committed in the area, plus a murder nearby two years ago.

“We got a good patrol of police officers, always patrolling. Sometimes they stop and say, ‘Is everything okay?’

“I might be in need but that doesn’t mean they’re not doing a good job. While I’m sleeping, people are working.”