At the 2015 general election, over 17,000 voters from the constituency of Point Fortin took to the polls.
When the results were announced, the PNM’s Edmund Dillon edged out his UNC opponent Ravi Ratiram, winning the seat by securing just over 60 per cent of the votes.
But five years later and with fresh faces set to do battle for a seat predominantly held by the ruling party, those on the ground say they are now looking towards the youth to steer the borough into areas of growth and development.
Around midday yesterday, the conversation of a group gathered at Geeta’s Restaurant and Steakhouse along Tanner Street, centred around the upcoming election battle.
According to Natasha Hagley, Point Fortin’s future appears bright given the prospect of the PNM’s candidate, mayor Kennedy Richards.
“I think the people of Point Fortin have lots to look forward to. Action beats old talk. We’re not only seeing it in the manifestation of the Mahaica Oval or the hospital but we’re also seeing it in the new council installed under his worship, the mayor, Kennedy Richards.”
Also seated at the table was Phillip Rgoonanan who added that Richards was a true son of the soil, “born and bred.”
Hagley said while in other areas there had been faceless representation, it was not the case in Point Fortin. Both she and Ragoonanan shared the view that the UNC’s Taharqa Obika lacked the connection with the man on the ground, both even questioning where the UNC’s representative had been over the years.
Also raised during the discourse were some of the issues plaguing the borough, namely poor roads and unemployment. Ragoonanan said while the move to close Petrotrin due to its lack of profitability under the PNM seemed like a dagger in the hearts of residents, opportunities have emerged with the establishment of Heritage Petroleum.
“The kind of strides Heritage has made for mass development…soon residents will realise the benefits.”
He, however, said more could be done to improve unemployment in the area.
Meanwhile, Rudranath Bensarie said given the history of the politics in the borough, the PNM will likely retain the seat despite little being done to improve the living conditions of residents in the area.
“All the MPs that pass through Point Fortin, they never perform,” he said.
He is however optimistic that with the injection of new blood, hopes for a better community could be realised.
Some residents along the fishing village of Icacos said they have grown tired of the neglect and lack of representation meted out to them and view their vote as a waste of time. The residents say whether the UNC’s Obika or the PNM’s Richards secure the seat at the upcoming election there may be little change to life in the rural area.
Residents have also expressed a level of disappointment that for an area which has predominantly been the hub of the oil and gas sector, there has been little to reflect the wealth which would have once flowed through the borough.
According to Shazam Mohammed, owner of Shazmo’s nursery and agriculture shop, the area’s next MP needs to place emphasis on the agriculture sector.
“All governments, past and present, the input in agriculture is not what it supposed to be. COVID-19 showed us that food was the most important thing.”
Mohammed said the area’s Farmer’s Market has been a major incentive to farmers in the area. However, the issue of land tenure for agricultural purposes was a problem.
Sharon Harris, an employee at Mohammed’s shop said she would like to see more done to assist farmers not just in the area but across the country.
With the race to Whitehall now in the last lap, residents of Point Fortin have already set their sights on how the prospective candidates being offered up could bring improvements to the sleepy borough.