McClashie: Crime can throw back community development

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Labour Minister and La Brea MP Stephen McClashie, centre, shares the spotlight with, from left, Business Development Pitch competition winners: most outstanding youth entrepreneurship Shimone Anthony; most outstanding environment sustainable ecosystem Reiann Phillip; most outstanding light manufacturing Jamie Thorpe; and most outstanding food/agriculture Shamilla Dickson during the opening ceremony of La Brea Economic Development Day at Vessigny Secondary School, La Brea, on July 10. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

LABOUR Minister and La Brea MP Stephen McClashie says crime can throw back progress being made by communnities towards economic development.

He made this statement when he addressed the inaugural La Brea Economic Development Day at Vessigny Secondary School, La Brea, on July 10

The event was a collaboration between McClashie’s constituency office and other stakeholders to encourage business development in La Brea.

They included the Sport and Community Development Ministry, National Gas Company, Shell TT Ltd, Trinidad Generation Ltd, Caribbean Gas Chemical Ltd and the La Brea Police Youth Club.

McClashie told his audience this project was a timely initiative to bring opportunities to south-west Trinidad to stimulate entrepreneurship and business opportunities.

But he added, “I have to mention a topic that is pretty disturbing.”

McClashie said while efforts are being made to create jobs and economic development in La Brea, “We are not immune from crime and criminality.”

He he he and his staff had made representation to financial institutions to instal automated teller machines (ATMs) in La Brea so that consitutents can easily access their money without having to travel to commercial banks outside La Brea.

McClashie said ATMs were put at two locations in La Brea. He added this would make it easier for people to access money to do simple things such as buy ice cream.

“But there are some (people) bent on making life difficult for us.”

McClashie said some of these people stole one of the ATMs for the money it contained.

He told the thieves, “You may enrich yourself for a night or a day, but you throw back a community for years.”

While efforts are being made to encourage businesses to invest in La Brea and encourage local entrepreneurship, McClashie said the actions of a few miscreants could discourage this, and encourage constituents to spend their money in communities outside La Brea instead of in it.

He urged constituents to be vigilant when it comes to criminal activities in La Brea.

“If you know something, let us take it to the police and let them deal with it.”

McClashie said the opening of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Pt Fortin earlier this year has created opportunities and challenges for southwest Trinidad.

While the highway reduces the commute time from other parts of Trinidad to Pt Fortin and some communities, the route the highway follows bypasses other communities. He said it was for this reason that entrepreneurs and businesses in these communities need to be innovate and adapt to changing times.

Government, McClashie continued, has been doing its part by bringing the National Energy Skills Centre back into La Brea and the Youth Development Ministry has been undertaking a host of programmes to train young people in skills to help them find sustainable jobs.

He urged parents to encourage their children to become involved in these various training programmes.

McClashie told his audience that government’s plans to establish a dry dock facility in La Brea are still onstream.

On September 7, 2018, the Prime Minister witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the development of a modern dry-docking facility in La Brea.

In the construction phase, 3.500 direct and 5,700 indirect jobs are expected to be created. Once the facility is operational, it is expected to provide direct and indirect employment to 2,700 and 13,000 people respectively.

At a Conversations with the Prime Minister forum in Palo Seco last July, Dr Rowley said, “The project is still on the table. We are going through the environmental assessment requirements because you know you can’t just go out there and build something. You have to go through a period of research to determine what happens at different times of the year to be able to work out how the construction is going to influence the environment. And the EMA (Environmental Management Authority) signs off on it so you cannot be challenged in the court and the project stops.”

McClashie asked where the workers for this facility would come from. He did not envision a scenario where minority of them came from La Brea.

“You do not develop a community like that.”

McClashie said education is key to developing people who can access sustainable jobs and bring about sustainable development in a community.

La Brea Committee for Sustainable Development chairman Renrick Campbell and NGC director Dan Martineau welcomed the La Brea Economic Development Day as an initiative which could help the community.