Community Development Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly opened an $11 million community centre in Tarouba, San Fernando, yesterday, less than two weeks before the general election.
But the minister denied that it was “PNM electioneering” saying 42 centres were built and upgraded by the PNM since 2015 in both UNC and PNM-held constituencies.
“We are happy to deliver. This is three years in the making. After we turned the sod we delivered the centre. This would be 42 centres we have built or upgraded,” she said.
She added, “We could not have done 42 in one year. We have been in a campaign to deliver in difficult times and this is not about elections.”
Gadsby-Dolly said the centres will assist in the development of communities, noting that youths will have access to courses and skills training.
“This centre is multi-functional. It has a gym, different classrooms for teaching, administrative offices so coordinators in the centre can assist. We can have teaching in the kitchen which is equipped with fridges and stoves so community education classes can take place. We have change rooms and an air-conditioned auditorium to accommodate 150 people,” Gadsby-Dolly said.
She said every community centre is handed to the community council and the manager or coordinator for the centre can negotiate to have certain courses offered.
“We want the centre to remain open and respond to the needs of the community. Where we have children in need of training, they will work through an NGO to get the courses needed in the community. These centres are critical for community development,” the minister said.
She added, “It didn’t matter whether UNC or PNM, we are one country. Getting this centre was important for our young, for our elderly, for our housewives, for people who want to upskill to a new form of micro-entrepreneurs.”
Meanwhile, San Fernando mayor Junia Rergrello said he was amazed that the government had succeeded in delivering 42 community centres during difficult times.
“I am amazed that the government was able to deliver this amazing number of centres in very difficult times. I was shocked when she said 42 centres were completed. Congratulations to the government for showing that care to your communities,” he said.
He explained that the buildings in Tarouba were named after illustrious people and he was hopeful that the youths could persevere and use the centre to represent these heroes.