Residents of East Port-of-Spain and environs are sceptical about the Community Recovery Committee’s ability to make a meaningful change to their communities.
One Laventille resident who did not want to be named told Guardian Media, “We have to wait and see. I saw a piece on TV6 or CNC3 last night and it ain’t sounding too promising.”
He said he was unaware of any work the committee was engaged in.
One woman, identified as Linda, said she too did not have faith in any fruitful results based on the attempts made previously.
“It’s a good idea but year come year go, election come, election go, they are saying that but Laventille still the same,” she said.
“I’m 53 years of age and the Laventille in the same position (as it always was).”
Over in Beetham Gardens, resident and activist Kareem Marcelle described the committee as “a brilliant initiative” and said he was aware of the committee’s consultations with residents.
But after being in existence for almost five months, he noted he was “yet to see anything rolled out in practicality in these communities”
“I think that that is unfortunate,” he said.
Marcelle was cautiously optimistic about the committee’s ability to come up with solutions to the marginalised community’s issues, however, he noted there needed to be just as much emphasis placed on the execution and implementation of the findings. He also believed residents’ needed to see some results in the short-term.
During an interview with Guardian Media on Wednesday, the committee’s chairman Anthony Watkins admitted they weren’t able to meet with as many residents as they’d like to due to the COVID-19 restrictions. However, he said they were still maintaining a presence on the ground though small. He explained the committee was currently in the process of establishing a baseline assessment of these communities and consulting with residents and corporate entities operating in the areas. He was aware of the residents’ scepticism to them and understands because they were let down before.
“We understand the caution people have to feel too enthusiastic about what we’re doing and that responsibility really lies with us. We have to continue the work. We have to deliver,” he said.
He said the work to uplift these communities would take some time but they are committed to ensuring it gets done.
“These communities that are cause for concern, they did not arrive where they are in a year or two to where it is. It’s been a long social, systemic and historical factors that brought us to where we are and some economic things as well.”