Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie said 12 projects for the redevelopment of East Port-of-Spain would benefit communities. he said the approach has been to engage the people, understand their specific needs and within the context of budgetary allocations — $30 million — to address some of those needs.
The East Port-of-Spain area includes three major communities — Belmont, Gonzales, and Laventille — which is further made up of 19 communities with a total population of 90,000, roughly that of Grenada’s entire population.
The East PoS Development Company is spearheading the project, under the aegis of the Planning Ministry which is the co-ordinating ministry for the Inter-American Development Bank and the Central Development Bank.
Tewarie said most of the people who lived in East Port-of-Spain were not involved in crime, but led decent lives.
“Parents are anxious to see their children do well in school. they want to see them achieve. What you have is an ordinary group of decent people who live in East Port-of-Spain. But over time what has happened is the criminal element has emerged. We have to understand how that has emerged because there are a number of factors,” he said. Tewarie listed such factors as an authoritarian school system and illegal drugs, with gangs responsible for different areas being created to effect distribution. He said the residents need to take back the communities from the criminals.
“No businesses will come, no art will flourish, no industries will be able to develop, no entrepreneurs will be able to organise their micro-businesses in a way that would allow people from outside to come into the community. No tourists will come to look at their heritage unless they understand that they need to make that place relatively crime free,” Tewarie said.