THE People’s National Movement (PNM) rode with vigour into the opposition stronghold of Siparia tonight to launch its local government campaign as it seeks to wrest control from the United National Congress (UNC).
The Prime Minister roused support with an earlier walkabout in the constituency of La Brea, which is also part of the Siparia Regional Corporation, bringing with him a general-election atmosphere.
At the Thick Village Community Centre, where the meeting was held, supporters dressed in their red party colours took the name of the venue to heart and were thick both inside and outside the venue.
Opening batsman at the meeting was the incumbent councillor for Siparia West/Fyzabad, Maurice Alexander, who is seeking a third mandate to represent the district.
Alexander hyped up the audience as he promised a clean sweep of the corporation, which is now under UNC control
“It is doable, it is winnable and we will make it happen,” he said to the cheering audience. “Nothing is going to stop us.”
Alexander said there is no room for naysayers or for doubts. He said in every district in the corporation, there have been projects the people of the region can be proud of.
Siparia , Fyzabad and surrounding communities have been severely affected by the closure of Petrotrin, and Energy Minister Franklin Khan, defending the closure, sought to identify with constituents. He reminded them that although he was born in Mayaro, he spent 23 years of his life in Fyzabad.
Having worked most of his life at Petrotrin, he said he empathised with what had happened, but told the audience the future of the energy industry was bright for this area.
In the surrounding communities of Fyzabad, Siparia, La Brea, Palo Seco, Santa Flora and Point Fortin, he said, “The oil company used to virtually mind you. Anything you want, you get – water, electricity, sponsorship, grounds. That was the life.”
But that was no longer possible, he said, and the government had to bring in its surgical team and get rid of the cancer.
Khan said the post-surgical team was not being brought in and the successor company, Trinidad Petroleum Holding Company Ltd, and its four subsidiaries hold the future of the oil sector.
He identified Heritage, which is responsible for exploration and production, as the saviour of TT. He said the brightest and best young talents will be recruited to drive the process and create a future.
Another “Fyzabad old boy,” Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte, also took the platform to woo voters.
He identified MC Senator Daniel Dookie as the next MP for Pointe-a-Pierre.
Le Hunte spoke of his pride of being from this part of TT, and the villages which brought him up and made him who he is today.
“We have to look at this area and work towards fixing this area,” he said. He pointed out that the UNC has had control of the Fyzabad and Siparia constituencies and the SRC for the longest while, “But we still have nothing to show for it.”
Le Hunte said he knows there have been complaints about water, but because 70 per cent of the water is produced in central and northeast Trinidad, it is a challenge to get that water down to the south and west.
“We have to fix the network and create and improve the booster system to be able to get water down here,” he said.