Tributes for late Penal/Debe corporation chairman: ‘Ramnath was dedicated to service’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A police officer salutes chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Diptee Ramnath after he was sworn into office in August. Ramnath died on Friday. –

UNC chairman Davendranath Tancoo, party vice-chairman Khadijah Ameen and Port of Spain Mayor Chinua Alleyne all praised Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC) chairman Diptee Ramnath as a person who lived a life of service.

They paid tribute to Ramnath, 63, at a funeral service at his home at Penal Rock Road, Penal on Tuesday.

Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi also paid tribute to Ramnath in a statement.

Ramnath died on Friday.

Tancoo recalled meeting Ramnath in the 1990s.

He remembered often being surprised by Ramnath’s dedication and drive towards serving his community.

At the time of his death, Ramnath was also the Quinam/Morne Diablo councillor.

Tancoo recalled stories of Ramnath calling fellow councillors at 5 am and then at five-minute intervals afterwards if they did not respond to him.

“I don’t know how he did that. It seems that Diptee had multiple personalities, multiple phones and was able to call them at the same time.”

Tancoo said Ramnath was the best servant and best example of what a local government councillor should be.

“He used to serve his community day and night.”

Tancoo added this commitment never changed, even when Ramnath left the UNC to join the PNM and later rejoined the party.

Ameen agreed with Tancoo. She said a lot of the development that took place within Penal/Debe in recent years could be attributed to Ramnath’s dedication to his community.

Alleyne said he only met Ramnath once a few months ago during a meeting at Rural Development and Local Government Ministry headquarters at Kent House, Maraval.

But he said that he was impressed with the calibre of Ramnath as a local government representative.

Alleyne said that Ramnath’s death will be mourned not only by the people of Quinam/Morne Diablo and Penal/Debe but by the entire local government community.

In his statement, Al-Rawi said, “Mr Ramnath’s legacy is etched in the improved infrastructure that now stands as a testament to his vision for a thriving and interconnected community. His strong working relationships with community groups and religious organisations fortified the bonds that make our region a closely-knit and supportive community.”

He added, “His tireless efforts transcended political boundaries, as he selflessly worked under both the UNC and PNM, showcasing a rare dedication to the well-being of all citizens.”

Al-Rawi also remembered Ramnath as a cherished family man and a true man of the people.

“His multifaceted contributions resonated not only within the political arena but also in the hearts of those who knew him personally.”

Ramnath was later cremated at Mosquito Creek.

His death will trigger a by-election for the Quinam/Morne Diablo electoral district.

On Saturday, UNC officials said this matter will be discussed in the new year.

The party controls all nine districts in the corporation. All three aldermen in the corporation are UNC members.

This means the corporation can continue to function as it has a quorum.

Until a by-election takes place, other councillors are expected to provide representation to Ramnath’s former burgesses.

The corporation’s vice-chairman alderman Gowtam Maharaj is expected to act as chairman in the interim, party officials said.

The by-election for Quinam/Morne Diablo could be one of two such elections the UNC may have to contest next year.

High Court Justice Marissa Robertson is expected to rule on a UNC election petition challenging the results of the local government election in the Lengua/Indian Walk district on January 8, next year.

The UNC filed the petition on August 21 after two recounts, which led to the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) candidate Autly Granthume being announced as the winner over the UNC’s Nicole Gopaul-Jones.

Granthume initially received 1,430 votes compared to Gopaul-Jones’s 1,425. At the end of the first recount, each candidate received 1,428 votes.

But the returning officer rejected a special ballot in favour of Gopaul-Jones, which would have broken the tie because the presiding officer had not initialled it.

The candidate’s election agent and counting agent objected, but this was overruled, and a second recount was done, resulting in the same outcome.

The EBC maintained its reasoning for rejecting the ballot as required by election rules under the Representation of the People Act. In subsequent correspondence, the EBC claimed Gopaul-Jones’s representative only objected after they realised the recount had ended in a stalemate. The EBC declared a fresh election for the district after the returning officer declared the election void.

The UNC has argued that if the special ballot is counted, it would win the district.