Rowley tells new Port of Spain council: Parking meters a must

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Keith Rowley –

THE idea of introducing parking meters in Port of Spain has been spoken about for years, but has not materialised. It is because of this the Prime Minister told members of the newly-elected council if they don’t achieve this by the end of their term, he would consider them as having failed.

Dr Rowley was speaking at the swearing-in ceremony at City Hall, Port of Spain on Wednesday afternoon.

Chinua Alleyne, 38, is the city’s new mayor and Abena Hartley, deputy.

Rowley said he salutes all members of the council, which he believes has formed “the most balanced corporation in TT today.”

He said years ago, he appealed to young people to “come forward and take responsibility of this country…

“And I can tell you it happened under the PNM, and it just happened again under a new party in Tobago.

“Trinidad is now in the hands of the next generation,” he said.

Rowley said he has faith and confidence in young people and congratulated the new council.

But he warned that it will not be easy, which is why there will be both guidelines and guidance for them.

One of the major issues in the capital city, he said, is homelessness and cleanliness as a result of that. He said in a few days, he will be turning the sod for the Assessment and Socially Displaced Centre at Foundry Road.

He said too many people use the city as a public toilet.

“So we expect that we will see no more street living. An alternative will exist, and we will enforce it that you do not live and defecate on the streets. There is no such right in the Constitution.”

Rowley also said he does not want to hear the new council say they are “going to” deal with the issue of parking, as it is mandatory that it be addressed.

He called for modern parking meters.

“That’s your assignment. If you end this term without parking meters in the city of Port of Spain, you would have failed in my book.”

He urged members to familiarise themselves with relevant legislation so they will “know where (their) authority comes from. “

While four years may seem like a long time, he said it is not, so they should “get going and work fast,” as many councils have had “nothing to show” after their tenure.

President of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) Gregory Aboud told members of the media he “couldn’t be happier” after hearing Rowley’s speech.

He said he has been involved with DOMA since 1990 and this is the weakest he has seen the city, commercially.

Rowley’s demand, he said, provides hope.

In addition, “We have a great sense of hope that this mayor, by his words, his reputation, his education, is going to be a new, innovative mayor for the city.”

He said parking or its prohibition should not be used as a “money-making” opportunity, so he sees the introduction of the meters as preventing that.

“There isn’t going to be a city without business…(Parking meters are) a clear indication that we recognise the power of the citizens (on business).”

Asked by Newsday if he too would say the council has failed if it does not deliver this, he said he has heard similar promises by at least five other councils.

But Rowley, he said, “is taking ownership of the issue and asking the council to take ownership.”