PM praised for San Fernando development

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

From left, Minister Foster Cummings, Robert Parris incoming Mayor of San Fernando, MP Brian Manning, Udecott CEO Tamica Charles, Udecott Chairman Anthony Garcia, Minister Terrance Deyalsingh, Minister Farris Al Rawi, outgoing San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello, Minister Kazim Hosein, and Minister Randall Mitchel at the opening of the San Fernando Parkade, King’s Wharf San Fernando on Tuesday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

THE Prime Minister was praised in absentia for his vision and commitment to develop San Fernando after the city was neglected by previous UNC administrations.

Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and outgoing San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello showered praise on Dr Rowley in their addresses at the opening of the San Fernando Parkade at King’s Wharf, San Fernando on Tuesday.

Al-Rawi gave the feature speech in Rowley’s place.

Asked by the media after the opening why Rowley was absent, Al-Rawi said, “He has a personal issue at the last minute that had him to cancel.”

He added that he or any of the other government ministers who attended the function could have filled in for Rowley.

Deyalsingh, Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein, Youth Development Minister Foster Cummings, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning and Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Randall Mitchell also attended the opening.

Al-Rawi said, “It’s a pity he was not here, because it is his vision and he deserves the plaudits and praise for backing this vision today.”

Was Rowley’s absence health-related?

Al-Rawi said, “Oh no, no, no. It was a conflict in scheduling, etc.”

He added, “I will let the Prime Minister speak to those issues.”

Al-Rawi recalled that former prime ministers Dr Eric Williams and Patrick Manning (both deceased), each saw the development of San Fernando as important in their respective tenures.

Outside of that, he said San Fernando witnessed no development under previous UNC governments. Al-Rawi said no other party other than the PNM saw the San Fernando Waterfront project as key to revitalising the city.

He added that only the PNM, under Rowley, came up with a clear strategy about how to undertake this project and improve San Fernando.

“Dreams need to be anchored.”

Al-Rawi said the parkade was one such anchor and others will be set down as the waterfront is rolled out in stages.

The parkade, he continued, came in at a cost of $132,742,815.47, after originally being budgeted at $140 million.

Noting that squatters were living across the road from the parkade, Al-Rawi said the PNM has been taking steps over time to make these people who were invisible, become visible. He cited the Housing Village Programme of the Housing Ministry, which assisted them in building proper homes which they could claim as their own, as an example.

Al-Rawi was also confident about increased employment in San Fernando through other developments in the city such as new housing construction or upgrades to existing housing.

Deyalsingh said the completion of the parkade, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, was also evidence of Government’s commitment to national development. He was pleased with the benefits the facility would have for staff at the nearby San Fernando General Hospital.

Regrello was happy to witness the parkade’s opening in his final official act as mayor.

“Thanks to the Prime Minister for having the vision and giving the support.”

Regrello extended best wishes to incoming mayor Robert Parris and his deputy Patricia Alexis.

Urban Development Corporation of TT (Udecott) CEO Tamica Charles said the parkade was the fifth such facility the company has opened nationally and the first in San Fernando.