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Fuad Abu Bakr

Raphael John-Lall

The Port-of-Spain South constituency has traditionally been a People’s National Movement (PNM) stronghold. Outgoing MP Marlene Mcdonald has represented the area since 2007.

Four major political parties believe that they have what it takes to win the seat in the upcoming general election.

Some 23, 778 persons are eligible to vote in the constituencyon August 10

Candidates of the four respective parties vying for the seat have identified poverty, youth unemployment and infrastructure as some of the problems in Port-of-Spain South

NNV

Fuad Abu Bakr, the political leader of the New National Vision (NNV), says he has a vision to transform the Port-of-Spain South constituency if elected in the upcoming general election.

Bakr, 32, is a businessman and social activist who lives in Belmont.

He is also the son of Yasin Abu Bakr who led the 1990 attempted coup, an event that will mark its 30th anniversary in two weeks.

The NVV which has faced two previous general elections will be contesting a total of 10 seats in the next election.

Some of the main problems he has identified in the Port-of-Spain constituency include drug abuse, homelessness, youth unemployment and poverty.

Bakr cited the recent social unrest in east Port-of-Spain a few weeks ago as an example of the deep problems the Port-of-Spain area faces.

He was arrested during that unrest in east Port-of-Spain and was subsequently given bail.

He said in his capacity in the past as a contractor, he has done infrastructural and rehabilitation works in areas like Nelson Street and he built a relationship with the residents of the area.

Despite being perceived as a PNM “stronghold” Bakr said suffering and the stigma of the poor people of this area have made the residents there despise the PNM.

He describes the PNM’s presence in all of Port-of-Spain as being “very weak.”

If elected he will embark on a project to redevelop places like Nelson Street, George Street, and Duncan Street.

UNC

Curtis Orr, the United National Congress’ (UNC) candidate for the constituency, is a former police officer who served for 20 years.

He decided to contest the seat on a UNC ticket as he said the PNM does not have a track record of delivering on their promises.

Orr has spent over 30 years working with different Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) and assisting young people in the Port-of-Spain area and based on this experience he is confident that he can tackle the problems of this constituency.

Some of the major problems that he has identified in this area include unemployment, crime, bad roads, and a lack of community centers and health centres.

To solve the problem of youth employment, he is going to encourage entrepreneurship and the setting up of small industries like food and paper manufacturing.

PNM

Keith Scotland has been a lawyer for almost 25 years and he said he made the decision get into electoral politics based on how well the Government has confronted the COVID-19 related crisis.

This is his first step into the political arena and Scotland admits it is a learning experience for him as the field of politics is very different from the legal profession.

He spoke about crime and the need for better infrastructure as being challenges in the constituency.

He said the PNM has traditionally implemented skills training programmes for young people and he intends to continue these programmes as well as come up with new initiatives to assist young people in the constituency.

Scotland said he has been getting to know the residents of the constituency over the last few weeks and for the eastern part of the constituency and its social problems, he intends to look at the root causes and then come up with solutions for them.

Speaking about the work McDonald has done in the constituency, he said she has served with “distinction” and he intends to work hard to continue all the positive work that she has done.

PEP

Gail Castanada is the Progressive Empowerment Party’s (PEP) for constituency.

Castanada lives on Nelson Street, Port-of-Spain, and has been a masonry instructor in the Helping You Prepare for Employment (HYPE) programme in the Laventille Technology Centre for the past 12 years.

This is the first time that she has thrown her hat in the political ring and she justifies this by saying that the area has been neglected for too long and she thinks that it is her responsibility to help solve the community’s problems.

She said the people of this constituency are not heard or seen and the residents are overlooked by past political administrations.

Some of the main problems that the area faces include a lack of clean water, dilapidated apartments, unemployment, and crime.

Some of the solutions that she proposes are setting up a technical school in the area to help train young people with the skills to get jobs.

If elected she will also implement projects to upgrade the apartments in the area and use labour from the constituency to assist youths.