“THE Borough of Siparia” will soon become a common utterance, as the Prime Minister announced last week that in 2021, the regional corporation will receive an upgrade.
Residents and business people in the area are hoping this is “not just a name change,” but that it also leads to increased development.
Newsday visited Siparia on Monday morning to hear people’s views on the impending change.
Joel Brathwaite hails from Fyzabad but works in Siparia. He told Newsday even before beginning his job at Mohammed’s Bookstore, he’d venture to the area regularly for shopping. He believes Dr Rowley’s decision was a good one.
“I’d usually come up here to get school supplies. It was like my main hub for shopping and an alternative to going San Fernando sometimes.”
He said there has been a steady increase in the variety of businesses in the area, but one thing he wishes to see is a mini-mall/shopping plaza.
Sherry Ramsumair has been running her variety store – Sherry’s Cosmetics Plus – for 12 years. She said she is very excited about the upgrade and believes there will be “many advantages.
“I haven’t seen much development over the years. I mean, a few buildings have gone up, but that’s it. And there isn’t much space here for other buildings either.
“We don’t have sufficient parking spots around here. If they could provide parking for the business people – because we always have to go find a park in some back road or something. So it does be hard. If we have to come here to drop off goods, we have to inform (the police) and leave as soon as you are done.”
Taxi drivers had mixed views about the change, saying they’ve been pleading for certain things to be fixed for years.
One driver who works the Siparia/Erin route said there are no public bathrooms nearby, so they always have to ask business people for “a bligh.
“We also need proper drainage. When rain falls, here gets clogged and smells bad.”
Another driver said he has been working the route for 15 years but at one point, he took a hiatus. When he returned years later, “Everything is still the same. That exact hole in the road has been there ever since I start working taxi.”
Suresh Ramcharan, a Siparia/Fyzabad route taxi driver, said he sees the move as “nothing more than a name change.”
He has been working this route since 1984.
He told Newsday, “Okay, so it’s going to be a borough, but the problems still remain. We need a lot of things, like good roads – the roads are really bad – we have to walk a quarter-mile for public bathroom facilities, there’s flooding when rain falls. If here is to become a borough, then let it be fit to become a borough.”
Secretary of the Siparia/Fyzabad Taxi Drivers’ Association Raul Lochan said he doesn’t have an opinion on the decision.
One change he would like to see, though, is a CNG gas station in the area.
“We have to go quite San Fernando. And most of the taxis up here using CNG.”
The association’s president Derek Ayum said it would be a good move and hopes things will improve after.
He too spoke of flooding, saying High Street “looks like a river” after “a drizzle of rain.”
One resident said she doesn’t think anything will change.
“We may just have Borough Day celebrations now, but that’s it.”
A food vendor told Newsday the decision “sounds good” but there isn’t much unity in the community in general.
But she said the business community is steadily growing. She’d like to see a cinema eventually built in Siparia.
Newsday tried to contact Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar but all calls went unanswered.