New mayor: Government must show respect for Siparia

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Councillor for Avocat/San Francique North Doodnath Mayrhoo is endowed with a civic regalia as he is appointed mayor of the new Siparia borough during a swearing-in ceremony at the Siparia Borough Corporation on Wednesday. – Angelo Marcelle

POLITICAL history was made on Wednesday in more ways than one, when Doodnath Mayrhoo one of the long-standing councilors, was sworn in as the first mayor of the Borough of Siparia.

Mayrhoo, the elected councillor for Avocat/San Francique North is also the son and grandson of former labourers who worked at the Siparia Regional Corporation in its previous incarnations.

“I am sure my father would be proud that the son of a labourer is now the mayor of the Borough,” Mayrhoo said in his inaugural speech after receiving the mayoral chain.

Without the support of his wife and family for the past 30 years when he neglected fatherly and spousal duties to satisfy his political hunger, Mayrhoo said, Wednesday would have been impossible.

Councillor for Cedros Shankar Teelucksingh was sworn in as deputy mayor.

Siparia is one of two former regional corporations declared boroughs in 2023.

The other is Diego Martin, where Akeilah Glasgow was also sworn-in as that borough’s first mayor on Wednesday.

In a fiery start to his tenure, the colourful and controversial Mayrhoo who has served as a councillor for the past 17 years, called on the Minister of Rural Development and Local Government, Faris Al-Rawi and Finance Minister Colm Imbert, “to show respect for Siparia and increase its allocation.”

Mayrhoo said he did not envisage an easy upcoming four years, given its limited allocation.

However, he pledged that he would ensure every dollar is properly and well-spent with no room for mismanagement.

He vowed that in the first year of his tenure, to right certain wrongs, identifying two key projects, namely the Irvin Park Sporting Facility and the Siparia Market.

He said these two landmarks in the community, which were rebuilt during the period of the PP administration under then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who was among the invited guests at the swearing in, had fallen into disrepair.

Mayrhoo who has been at the forefront of several controversial protests for better roads and water, pointed to an existing water problem in the region and also promised “ to leave no stone unturned” to address that situation.

He vowed to work with the councilors on both sides of the political divide to improve life in the new Borough, by meeting with citizens in all the electoral districts to hear their concerns.

Noting the challenges that existed in the last council with the CEO, Mayrhoo pledged to work with her.

Pointing out that there has been talk about productivity with no evidence, Mayrhoo said he also intended to meet with employees of the borough to take pride in their work.

While he understood worker’s frustration because they were working for “2013 salaries,” Mayrhoo said that was a matter for the CPO and their recognized bargaining unit, but he would ensure that the work was done in the right way.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar applauded Mayrhoo’s initiatives and wished him best of luck. However, she reminded him that luck alone could not achieve the desired results.

She called on him to press for resources, to fix the problems and also employ more municipal police officers to ensure the safety and security of the borough.

Even though some of the councilors were returning, Persad-Bissessar said they were all new in terms of its Borough status.

“New brooms sweep clean. I challenge you to make a clean sweep.” Persad-Bissessar also thanked outgoing chairman Dinesh Sankersingh and deputy chair Chandra Ramadharsingh for their service.

A very-emotional Sankersingh was on the verge of tears as he bade farewell to his colleagues, staff, political leader, wife and family.

Sankersingh praised councilors from both the United National Congress (UNC) and the People’s National Movement (PNM) for their unstinting support over the years he presided in the corporation.

The council will meet in a special statutory meeting next Monday.