Constituents worried about THA restructuring


Tobago West MP Shamfa Cudjoe at a press conference in Pigeon Point Heritage Park on Tuesday. – David Reid

The restructuring of some Tobago House of Assembly (THA) divisions and subsequent loss of jobs was raised by Tobago West constituents at their town hall meeting with MP Shamfa Cudjoe on Tuesday.

The meeting, at the Tobago West constituency office in Scarborough, attracted approximately 30 people.

In April, THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said several units in the THA required some restructuring in order to make them efficient. To date, three have been restructured, the latest being the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme, under the Division of Community Development, Youth Development and Sport.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, under the Division of Infrastructure, has been dismantled, as well as the Community Partnership Unit, under the Office of the Chief Secretary.

The PNM has labelled the restructuring “political lynching” by the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) administration.

Speaking with Newsday after the meeting, Cudjoe described the turnout as “good,” saying for the next meeting, a community centre would have to be booked as the conference room in the office is “too tight for that.”

She said she was able to report to the people on the work of Parliament from January, as the last town hall meeting was held virtually in December.

People also discussed their most pressing concerns.

“People been laid off from their jobs – that would be the most urgent.

“The other ones would be community centres – they’re saying that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get access. In addition to that, this whole restructuring of village councils: telling the old village council that they are defunct and starting new village councils with new leaders – the members of the constituency are very, very concerned.”

She said these meetings will continue once amonth to keep the people informed and empower them.

“If there is something they want us to discuss, it would take on the same format. So let’s say they want to discuss utilities, we’ll bring somebody from TSTT, WASA and T&TEC to sit at the head table, and they would ask the questions to them.”

She said there will be an update on the airport expansion project, infrastructural developments in Tobago and the land-title issues.

“So all the promises made by the central government to the constituency or to Tobago, we would keep them up to date with what’s taking place…

“We also get feedback from them, as to how legislations affect Tobago, the ones passed and the ones that are before the Parliament at this time.”

Some emphasis will also be placed on education, she said, so the public can be aware of what services they can access from the government. She also intends to show people how to fill out government forms.

“We recognise in Tobago that is a challenge, where people get nervous when it comes to filling out the forms and they don’t really understand…documents and so on.”

Roving public days. she said, have been held in communities such as Black Rock Community Centre, Lambeau/ Lowlands at the Gulf City Mall and Scarborough and environs at the Port Mall and will continue, along with community walkabouts. She said she has also visited schools such as Scarborough Secondary and Signal Hill Secondary, as well as the Plymouth Anglican Primary School, interacting with the student population.

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