SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

As the countdown to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections on December 6 continues, Tobagonians are becoming more vocal about the needs of their communities.

In the newly-created district of Daryl Spring/Whim, St John Adams lamented the ‘backward’ condition of his community.

“This community, we need the roads finish fix, we need lights, we want some more jobs in the community, the place want to be more up to date,” Adams told Guardian Media during a visit.

Daryl Spring/Whim is one of three new districts in Tobago, along with Mt St George/Goodwood and Lambeau/Lowlands.

Monday will be the second time this year that Tobagonians will be heading to the polls, after the January 25 THA election ended in a 6-6 deadlock between the People’s National Movement (PNM) and Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP). The tie forced the Elections and Boundaries Commission to create the three new districts to avoid another deadlock.

Adams, 66, said with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the tourism sector to a halt, he wants to see a greater focus on agriculture. He said with most of Tobago’s supplies coming from Trinidad, life has become too expensive.

“You can’t survive on tourism anymore. We need to come back to basics, plant your crops, get your fowl and mind it, but everybody’s mindset is for the grocery, everybody hands is off from doing something…we need a little push because everything coming from Trinidad and it so expensive.”

Adams suggested opening farming programmes in communities to provide employment and food for Tobagonians.

“They could open a programme, go into villages and open a programme like what (ANR) Robinson used to do, instead of planting flowers on the side of the road, do farming, you put out the money and let the people do the farming and then you take the crop and sell it. That is something that will push Tobago, every village, you getting to eat and you getting to push out,” Adams said.

He said with its high unemployment rate, Tobagonians do not need handouts but a strong foundation to build on.

However, Adams said he does not see the potential to fix the island’s issues from any of the parties contesting the election.

“They not putting it out, they coming around but they not putting it out, because it have plenty village in this Tobago where you could naturally go and see people asking… a lil $500, this and that, that can’t sustain people. You need a foundation where they could stand up and others could come and start to build on it,” he said.

A short distance away, Devon Isles lamented the lack of jobs for young people. Isles said he is hoping to see a technical school opened to train youngsters so they can become self-employed.He said he sees one party who can fix this issue.

“I say PDP because to me, PNM ent really doing nothing much for the country and I feel if we get a change, the country will go much better,” Isles said.

Resident Darren Mc Clatchie said he supports the PNM. He agreed more needs to be done on the island to encourage youngsters to get into farming.

“Tobago has a lot of lands, a lot of waste lands and agriculture could be boosted up, they could pay people to do agriculture basically, although some people are lazy but agriculture could be a big help in Tobago if the people are willing to work.”

Mc Clatchie said he was excited by the upcoming election and is hoping the PNM will keep its promises to his community if victorious.

“I heard they talked about the indoor facility, which is long overdue too and I heard they said if we give them another term, they will make sure to bring that to light, and I am hoping that they bring it to light because I have been hearing about it over and over and it’s about time. So far, they are doing a very good job but there is room for improvement,” he said.

New father Leandro Jack said he tries not to focus on politics because it can get too toxic.

“I am not that much into politics, I don’t find its healthy to get into because it’s always some kind of bobol thing between the two parties back and forth and to me, they not fighting for the needs of the country, they only fighting for themselves,” Jack said.

However, he said this does not mean he does not care about which party controls the Assembly from December 7.

“I have my newborn son there and I want him to grow up and live properly, to make better for himself and to make a change to the area, so I do care.”

He too said unemployment was a major issue, noting there were groups of youngsters who sit on the roadside all day.

“If you drive right around the corner, you will see them. They over there all the time doing nothing. We really need to do something about getting employment for these youths,” Jack said.

Unlike Jack, John Virgil said he believes it does not matter which party wins the election.

“I doesn’t mind because it doesn’t bring good or bad for me, I have to work hard the same way and I self-employed because I have my own personal ambition,” Virgil said.

He said the district needs more development and support from those hoping to represent its people.

“We don’t see the representatives, you only see them for a little time and then you don’t see them again. We want a wall in the back there, and we see them once, a promise, a promise…but a promise is a comfort to a fool.”

Jack, who owns and operates a welding business, said small businesses also need a helping hand.

“My place is Tobago Creative Welding, when I say Tobago, I mean Tobago. I say seeing as it start here and it operating here…we could get a lil help out. But anywhere you try, is blank. They not doing anything for the small man, we have to fight up.”