Sangre Grande residents agree with councillor Dayne Francois that despite the eastern community having the highest unemployment rate in the country, crime remains at an all time low.
Francois, the Sangre Grande North/West councillor, speaking at a legitimacy exercise in the community on March 31 where hundreds of residents turned out to see integrated teams of members of the community and the police play basketball, had said then that while the people had little money, they did not resort to crime.
Interviewed by Sunday Newsday last week, several residents describe the region as a “nice” place to live. On Thursday, the streets of the town were bustling with stores, pharmacies and fast food places all open for business, street vendors selling a range of vegetables —pimiento, patchoi, bhaji, pumpkin and ochroes, all claimed it was from their “own little garden.”
One man seated on a stool, used the trunk of his car as a makeshift shelf as he repaired and made leather shoes and sandals. Other vendors were selling homemade sweets and delicacies. The offerings seemed endless as shoppers milled about on the streets, hustling to get their shopping down so they could “get away from this hot sun.”
While the centre of the town bustled with commercial activity, the outskirts of Sangre Grande were characterised by acres upon acres of undeveloped land, no signs of crops nor residences, nor industry — a nature lover’s paradise.
Kriston De Souz, who is gainfully employed with a construction company said Sangre Grande on the whole, and an area he lived for a little while, Guaico, Tamana, were amazing places to live.
“Grande is a nice community to live in. There might be some crime in between, but here it is comfortable to live,” De Souz told the Sunday Newsday. “The police are working in Sangre Grande, they are doing a good job,” he said.
He admitted, however, that unemployment was an issue in the area especially for the youth.
“A lot of the youth don’t really have the education that employers are looking for to get jobs. People are looking to hire people who have an education. And the rest of them are just lackadaisical, that is reality, but jobs are a bit hard to get up on this side because there are not really all that many big businesses,” he said.
De Souz felt Government should decentralise some of the larger businesses and relocate them to Sangre Grande.
“It doesn’t make sense somebody having to go all the way to Port-of-Spain to look for jobs. My wife has seven subjects, but she is not going to Port of Spain to look for a job, it will be very difficult for her. Personally, I don’t find they are doing enough for Sangre Grande,” he said.
Newspaper vendor Hardeo “Billy” Persad’, who proudly showed us the empty stand where a stack of Newsday newspaper had stood that morning, long since sold out said there was crime in Sangre Grande, just that it was not too bad.
His claim that “Grande nice to live in” was the consensus shared by the majority of the residents.