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Thursday 21 March 2019
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E PoS residents cautiously hopeful over development plan

The Lodge on Picadilly Street, Port of Spain. PHOTO BY KERWIN PIERRE
The Lodge on Picadilly Street, Port of Spain. PHOTO BY KERWIN PIERRE

While they are hopeful that plans for restoring parts of east Port of Spain will bring opportunities for growth, some residents and business owners remain sceptical that building a multi-storey building for entrepreneurs will make a difference.

Minister of Housing Edmund Dillon announced that the government had approved the first stage of the Picadilly Regeneration Project. This would aim to improve the quality of life of residents by offering more centralised economic and recreational sites while restoring damaged and poorly kept landmarks in and around the Piccadilly Greens.

Newsday visited parts of Besson Street and Piccadilly Greens and spoke to residents, who said previous plans to invest in their community, while well-meaning, often lacked the proper oversight and suffered from poor management and neglect.

Business owner Stanley Thomas of Josey's Leather Effects said the project would push vendors further inside east Port of Spain, and was afraid the change in location would deter customers.

"Nobody would go in the back there to buy our goods. I'm standing here close enough to see the area they intend to build that structure, but I wouldn't venture in the back there, for no other reason than the crime.

"Out here we're closer to the (Independence) Square for people to see us and buy from us, but sending us further back up the street might actually make business worse."

Another vendor, Kevon Clement, said while he welcomed more opportunities to improve the living conditions of east Port of Spain, he preferred to wait and see if the plans would manifest.

"We always hear about different plans to come in and try to improve the area, but we seldom see any real changes. So for now it sounds like a good idea that a lot of people could benefit from, but we just have to wait and see if it comes through."

Another vendor, who preferred not to be named, also said while the idea sounded good, it would need proper management by the relevant ministry to succeed in bringing entrepreneurs together.

"We had a similar plan to try and turn the (Clifton) Towers into a market area where people can come and sell their wares, but it never succeeded because of poor management.

"We need a plan we can stick to, and the location for this idea is not the best, because there is always the issue of crime in the area, so unless we can get adequate protection, nothing will change."

Dillon said the project was aimed at promoting economic activities in east Port of Spain, and government understands the need to better invest in the area.

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