By Capil Bissoon
Last week’s column “The art of political distraction” reinforces my belief that we must always be on guard when those who understand how to manipulate information can easily change the national conversation.
The continuing mantra from the People’s National Movement (PNM), especially to their supporters in the East/West corridor, is that the People’s Partnership Government has concentrated the bulk of its development projects south of the Caroni River and that it has disproportionately disadvantaged, in its resource allocation, those residing along the East/West corridor.
This mantra stated repeatedly on platforms and elsewhere, as an article of PNM faith, is motivated by its need to reinforce support among its core constituency along the East/West Corridor by implying falsely that its concerns and interests were not being addressed by an uncaring Government.
This strategy of repeating a lie over and over until it gains credibility and traction can only work if one does not pause to check the facts.
What are the facts?
The Partnership has done very significant and most needed infrastructural development works along the East/West corridor as it has done throughout the country. The reality is that the PNM significantly ignored the needs of its core constituents. Laventille East/Morvant, Laventille West and PoS South, despite being PNM strongholds since 1956, have continued to have its concerns repeatedly and callously ignored by successive PNM governments. This is not unique; the PNM, in league with its upper class financiers and new elite candidates, has repeatedly ignored the concerns of its poorer class of supporters.
It is their style to treat their core support badly and somehow skillfully nurture the myth that they alone care for them and represent their interests.
In Dr Keith Rowley’s own backyard, the Partnership completed the Diego Martin Highway Extension, constructed the Diego Martin Technology Centre and the ultra-modern Chaguaramas Boardwalk and Recreational facility. What has Dr Rowley, as a former Cabinet minister and MP since 1991, ever done for Diego Martin?
In the east there is the UWI/COSTAATT campus in Sangre Grande, which caters to the needs of close to 1,000 students. The PNM would have us believe the Valencia By-Pass is somehow geographically located in South.
Add to this is the COSTAATT Nursing Academy in El Dorado for training the country’s nurses and health care professionals, the upgraded Tunapuna market and the Tunapuna Promenade are all in the corridor, which the PNM says the Partnership has neglected.
In Arima, the Partnership has started construction of a new hospital and police station and the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway Extension; Arima, mind you, has consistently supported the PNM in most general elections.
Other projects in North Trinidad include new walkovers in Oropune and Maloney, construction of the St Barbara’s Spiritual Shouter Baptist Primary School in Malabar, the national tennis complex under construction in Tacarigua, the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway/Uriah Butler Highway Interchange at Grand Bazaar, completion of the Aranguez Overpass, the construction of the National Oncology Centre at Mt Hope, major repairs to the Blanchisseuse Road leading to significantly improved access to the Asa Wright Nature Centre.
The list can go on and on but one gets the point that most statements repeatedly made by the PNM do not align with the facts.
We should not allow the conversation to be changed; the Partnership has ensured that the PNM die-hard supporters north of the Caroni are being afforded the same high quality of governance that all citizens enjoy, be it road repairs, infrastructure and development works etc. This is what separates the PNM from the Partnership… all constituencies are treated equally!
What is so wrong with the Partnership development projects for the entire country, north and south of the Caroni? Is it because some are in the heartland of the UNC support, or is it that the PNM continues to believe the citizens of these areas do not require infrastructural development works which was the modus operandi of its governance for the 42-odd years of their dispensation of power.
The Partnership has ensured that rural neglect and discrimination have been relegated to the dustbin and we must ensure that is how and where it remains.
Be wary of the PNM, real wolves in sheep’s clothing trying to convince you they care while planning only to bring back every failed PNM policy that the people rejected in 2010.
The PNM’s visionless track record demonstrates that they are clueless about how to manage an economy subject to the vagaries of falling oil prices and most sadly, they appear incapable of giving us a fact-based campaign.
Their answer to falling oil prices… a $60 billion rapid rail system.