To get minister’s attention, Princes Town residents ‘rename’ street after him

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Member of Parliament for Naparima Rodney Charles and protesters point to a street sign they erected which they named after Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Kazim Hosein during a protest at Sahai Trace, St. Croix Road in Princes Town. The protesters believe the landslip will soon cut off access to their community if no repairs are done soon. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Frustrated by the failure of authorities to repair a landslip along their street, residents of Sahai Trace in Princes Town have begun a campaign to rename their street after Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein in hopes of getting his attention.

In a protest on Thursday, they symbolically hoisted a street sign which read “Kazim Hosein Trace.”

But in a letter sent to Princes Town Regional Corporation chairman Gowrie Roopnarine on the same day, on behalf of residents, Naparima MP Rodney Charles asked for the name change to be made official.

Speaking at the protest, Charles explained why Hosein was the subject of the residents’ ire.

Charles said, “Major roads are the responsibility of the Ministry of Works and Transport…This road is what you call a secondary road and it is the responsibility of the Princes Town Regional Corporation.

“Chairman Gowrie spoke to me this morning (Thursday) and said that they do not have any money because the ministry has to be given (the funds) by the Ministry of Local Government.

“Because Minister Kazim Hosein is stingy with the corporation, they are unable to fix this road.”

Charles said the corporation has said it will cost at least $2 million to repair the landslip and he is pleading with Hosein to disburse the funds.

“If necessary, we are going to take this to Parliament and we are going to demonstrate in front of the Ministry of Local Government.”

Referring to this week’s protests in Beetham over a sinkhole, Charles said it was “the only way the government listened.”

Sahai Trace, St. Croix Road in Princes Town – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

He added, “Beetham had to smell dirtiness for months (from the sinkhole) and it’s only when they made noise, the government listened. If that is the modus operandi today, we are going to make noise and we are going to embarrass them.”

Business owner Sherifa Balgobin complained delivery trucks have been unable to deliver goods properly because of the state of the road.

With the landslip only getting worse since 2018, Balgobin hopes the street’s new name will make Hosein feel an added sense of responsibility to the area.

She explained, “We have been complaining to the ministry (of Local Government) concerning this landslip for quite some years. Since 2018 we have been writing letters after letters concerning this issue.

“I believe that once his (Kazim’s) name is here, this would belong to him and he would come out and fix this place. If he doesn’t fix it, how is it going to look on his behalf?

“Mr Kazim, if you’re listening, we are addressing you to come and fix your trace, please. Fix it and make it look good. Look at the condition of it.”

Angela McFarlane lives opposite the landslip and said the resultant stress has worsened a health condition she suffers from.

With just a few feet of road remaining, and her yard being used by some cars to manoeuvre past the landslip, she is afraid one of her three young grandchildren may run outside as a car is passing.

“Everything is passing in my garage, this is dangerous and we have to be always looking out for them. That’s not fair. We need the road fixed.

“The other day a car nearly lick away a next car in my garage. When trucks try to pass it does hit my roof.

“We need the road fixed. Come on, man, we need this done.”

The headquarters of local telecommunications service provider Air Link Communications is on Sahai Trace. The company’s chief development officer Riyad Mohammed said the landslip has been bad for business.

“We as a company employ over 60 employees and to date, we have now had to redirect our staff, which incurs an extra cost to our staff.

“We can’t get shipments here: we have to rent an outside warehouse to operate our business. In some cases, trucks have to stop out the road and my guys have to manually move everything in. Yes, there’s an access road to the back, but it’s very horrible and unsafe.

The most we can do is plead with the government that this is very important to us and we need to get the road fixed.”

Contacted for comment, Roopnarine told Newsday he had not received any requests from residents to change the street’s name.

“That request never came to anyone in the corporation, so I’m not aware. If such request is made, it must be done by residents from the area and residents must submit signatures requesting the change.

“So far, no requests have been made. But such a request cannot be made by a councillor or a member of Parliament.

“To be honest, I don’t think the villagers would want a name change, but their concern is really the landslip and getting that situation fixed.”

Newsday was unable to get a comment from the Local Government Minister on the issue.