Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales, left, presents Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis with a token of appreciation during his tour of Tobago

Loyse Vincent

Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales spent most of Friday visiting several projects throughout Tobago East and Tobago West, under his remit.

These projects included the Tobago West Waste Treatment Plant at SWMCOL and street lighting projects at Carnbee and Bethel.

He also paid a courtesy call on Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis and coming out of that meeting the minister said there will be greater “collaboration between the ministry and the Tobago House of Assembly to give more support to farmers by drilling a number of wells so that farmers can access water on a consistent basis.”

And, according to the minister the island’s bad roads will also be addressed.

He said, “We agreed to revive a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with respect to what we have with potholes and the leaks that are causing a lot of potholes. I was told this morning that there are 2,000 potholes or so that came about as a result of leaks so with closer collaboration with WASA those are to be addressed in the shortest time possible.”

In 2013, then secretary in the Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities Hilton Sandy announced that his Division and WASA “committed to working together to ensure Tobago’s roads are returned to a pristine state following pipe maintenance works.”

The programme was, however, short-lived as the THA soon resumed full responsibility for road maintenance on the island.

The present Secretary for Public Utilities, Settlements and Urban Renewal Clarence Jacob said the agreement between both parties was “not a revival but a continuation.”

“As you construct you will get destruction, but we are here to remedy the situation. Today is a good day for us because we are not just here to sit in our office and take complaints, we are also actioning the interests of our people,” he said

The long-standing Hillsborough Dam desilting project which began last year was also included on the minister’s itinerary.

Gonzales said, “We expect at the end of this desilting programme this dam will have approximately 2 to 3 million gallons more water and with that excess capacity there are a number of communities that are underserved and will see an improved supply some 20,000 persons will see an improvement in their water supply.”

Member of Parliament for Tobago West Shamfa Cudjoe said she was excited by the progress as many of the matters she highlighted in her area were dealt with expeditiously.

“I remember visiting a number of areas late last year and reaching out to minister and residents got the assistance they needed. Piggot Trace at Carnbee, Big Stick Gully at Bethel are just to name a few and today is symbolic of strengthening of the relationship between the THA and Central Government,” she said.

Member of Parliament for Tobago East Ayanna Webster-Roy said she too was elated as residents in her constituency benefited under the street lighting programme, however, she said development is a gradual process.

“It’s about self-help now coming together and putting your shoulder to the wheel and working with the government to get things done – as I told the residents of Gru Gru Patch one hand can clap in fact we need all hands on deck,” she said.

She said residents and the representatives needed to collaborate with people within the Tobago House of Assembly and the Government to ensure that meaningful development continues.