Minutes after removing the chairman’s chains of office and remarking that his three-year term in office seemed more like three months, outgoing Princes Town Regional Corporation (PTRC) chairman Gowrie Roopnarine was elected to a second term on the UNC-controlled corporation.
The corporation is divided 13-1, with the PNM securing a lone alderman position thanks to the number of votes cast in the December 2 local government poll.The announcement was greeted with widespread applause, including from the PNM alderman, as Roopnarine rose from his seat to be once more outfitted with the chairman’s chains of authority.
The swearing-in ceremony was held at the PTRC Hall, High Street, Princes Town, on Tuesday.
Former minister in the Ministry of Education in the PP government Clifton DeCoteau was nominated as an alderman and then elected deputy chairman. It was Princes Town MP Barry Padarath who set the hall alight, saying there were two political issues affecting the corporation, and both had to do with the leadership provided by central government.“For three and half years we have been clamouring, with Gowrie and members of this council, that the facilities in which you sit here today...have failed two OSH tests.” (Occupational Safety and Health)," he charged.
“The minister should be ashamed for this swearing-in ceremony to take place in his facility.
"Why? Because each and every one of you who are sitting here, your lives are at risk."
He said it was "totally unacceptable” for people to be occupying the building, working in it or visiting it.
“And therefore I will join Gowrie and now we have our ten councillors here – if it means taking to the streets and shutting down this building, we will no longer sit idly by and keep writing letter and putting pen to paper and putting the lives of people in this country and people of Princes Town at risk,” Padarath declared.
He did not identify the tests the building had failed.Padarath also said the Piparo mud volcano, which he described as a “national disaster waiting to happen,” was not being given the kind of attention it deserved.He said the first responders were the PTRC’s Disaster Management Unit, which comprised four people who were also mandated to take care of all the electoral districts which comprised the sprawling corporation.“It is totally unacceptable that we have an issue of the Piparo mud volcano and we are depending on four people with one vehicle in the DMU.“We have seen a disaster taking place right next door in Penal/ Debe and there is silence coming from the government, silence coming from Cabinet and silence coming from the prime minister.”The other aldermen are Azim Bassarath and Natalia Mendez. Mendez is the sole PNM voice in the corporation.