The Port of Spain City Corporation will try to clear the city of vagrants by introducing a “nudge along” policy. The policy is designed to discourage homeless people sleeping in the city.
Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez, in a phone interview yesterday, said the corporation had been trying to do something about the homeless population. This included building a homeless shelter, but the corporation was unable to get the land designated for the shelter, and will instead encourage them to go to Riverside Plaza.
“I have met with the various NGOs together with the Archbishop of Port of Spain and Ministry of Social Development. I have given the order to fabricate metal gates to be erected at the bottom of the current Riverside Plaza, and what we will do there is block of the road so that unsightly space will no longer exist,” Martinez said. He said NGOs that feed the homeless on the street will be directed to go there to feed them. While the gates are being built, the corporation is training its new recruits on the “nudge along” policy.
“We will ask new municipal police recruits and public health to nudge the homeless along and move them from where they are sleeping. The pavement belongs to the city, and they cannot sleep there, and they will encourage them to move to the homeless shelter.”
Asked what type of persuasion would be used, Martinez said: “They follow the food.”
He said the corporation would implement this policy as soon as the gates for the homeless centre are finished. He expected this to happen before Christmas.
“We have to wash down a number of streets and look at areas where the streets are unsightly and encourage businesspeople and vendors to manage their garbage a little differently. We will need a policy for the different areas in Port of Spain. “We have fish vendors who, when they finish selling their fish, they put the guts in the canal. So we have to change that mindset.”