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PNM supporters cry neglect in Point Fortin
Emotions ran high in Point Fortin on Tuesday night as supporters of the People’s National Movement (PNM) cried neglect by the party they have pledged loyalty before a forum hosted by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
Rowley was given an earful about a lack of sporting facilities, an abandoned fire station, old schools, lack of jobs, housing, and a Member of Parliament they claim was not regularly in his office to attend to their needs.
The meeting, titled Conversation with the Prime Minister, was held at the Point Fortin East Secondary.
School teacher Michael “Buzz” Mills led off the tirade as he stood before a microphone on the floor to question why the PNM had an attitude against Point Fortin.
Amidst sustained applause, Buzz was emboldened to tell Rowley and MP for the area National Security Minister, Edmund Dillon, who had addressed the audience at the Point Fortin Secondary School moments before, that he was not interested too much in National Security at this time.
“What I am interested in is why the PNM have this attitude against Point Fortin. Why? Why? Why?”
Mills identified the Mahaica Oval, from where many national and international sporting icons emerged, and the Civic Centre, which he said had been demolished under successive PNM administrations, “which have been faithful to you and up to today we can’t get it fixed.”
“But Point Fortin ain’t have one good ground and I am asking why. What makes it worse is that we support the PNM over the years,” Mills said as he broke down.
But Rowley was quick to assert that this was not a PNM meeting but a Government meeting as he advised members of the audience, some of whom were dressed in the party’s T-shirts and colour, to keep PNM business for later. He also told them that it was easy to identify themselves as being persecuted, but they had good reason to support the PNM over the years, again advising, “Don’t come with dat.”
Master of ceremonies, Nicole Olivierre, also came in for some heckling as she tried to reign in some of those asking questions, informing them that the meeting was to deal with national and not personal issues and to properly conduct themselves as the meeting was being carried live on television. To this an elderly woman in the audience replied, “So let the people hear what going on here nah.”
Former PNM councillor Andrew Abraham was also among the residents who brought to the fore that there were five gas stations in Point Fortin, but only one was functioning. “And we are talking about a constituency that is PNM,” Abraham stressed.
Energy Minister Franklin Khan who shared the platform with Rowley said they were aware of this and explained there were challenges with getting the owners to accept new regulations which dealt with health and safety issues. Khan said they are hoping to get a minimum of three gas stations in operation shortly.
Rowley heard about and was shown discoloured water which has been flowing from the taps of residents and an appeal from a small contractor to get the $105,000 owed to him by the Water and Sewage Authority. When Rowley advised him to take it up with his MP, the gentleman expressed no confidence in his MP saying he had brought it to his attention, “but he write a letter, got no response and he done with that.”
The PM also heard appeals from a representative of the Fire Services for a new building to replace the dilapidated structure which has been declared unfit and which they have vacated, appeals from parents for the long-awaited new Fanny Village Government School, for support of NGO’s and land to build a homework centre, pleas for a trade school, housing , the influx of Venezuelans in the Borough and another emotional plea for justice from a mother Nicole Anthony, who had lost her daughter and son-in-law to crime.
More than halfway into the meeting, resident Mervyn Mc Intosh rose to accuse the Prime Minister and those on the platform, “Of total disrespect” for not singing the National Anthem before the start of proceedings.
To this Rowley stopped the meeting, and ordered the audience to stand and Mc Intosh to lead in the singing of the Anthem, which he did.
Almost at the end of the meeting, another kind of emotion was evoked from a man who said he had travelled all the way from Rio Claro to bring a message to Rowley from the late Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams. He was given the opportunity to deliver it privately to Rowley.
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