PDP leader Watson Duke is calling for his constituency office in Roxborough to be refurbished, even as he accused the Farley Augustine THA administration of discriminating against his constituents over jobs.
Duke, the electoral representative for Roxborough/Argyle, on Tuesday invited the media to his office in Roxborough, which he said is in dire need of repair. He said he has occupied the space since 2017 and to date it has never been renovated, nor has any of the old equipment been replaced.
“So currently now, it has been so for two years – the air-conditioning in this building has not been working; when it rains the building leaks; for one month the electricity supply was out of service because the pole was rotten.
“Every single air-condition unit is rotten to its core; both gates are falling down upon people when you open it, so we have to leave the gates open now on a regular basis.”
He said the building was an old government quarters that later became the electoral assemblyman’s office, which former representatives like Hilton Sandy and Gary Melville occupied before him. He said it's often asked why he wasn’t in his constituency office.
“I have to ask the question, how many days per week can I come and present myself to less than humane circumstances? While I am sitting in this oven burning up with heat, we have just across the road in the administrative complex, they have several offices that are not functional: in other words, several offices that are empty.”
He said he had written to the THA seeking permission to occupy one of those offices, saying the office of the assemblyman for the area is critical to governance.
He said his complaints continue to fall on deaf ears.
“About a month ago, I spoke to the person responsible for these areas at the Assembly Legislature and they made a phone call to Properties, which falls under the office of the Chief Secretary, and there was no forthcoming response. There is no effort at all to either fix this office or relocate us.”
Additionally, he said the people of his district were not benefiting from jobs.
“In that, there are so many job opportunities that are being created in Roxborough, in particular the Roxborough mini-hospital, and how many persons from Roxborough are working there? Almost zero. Zero persons are working there from Roxborough. (The Division of) Health has employed persons; they have taken no one from this constituency, and whenever someone gets something from this constituency, it’s five on, five off, ten on, ten off.”
He reminded that it was Roxborough which started the rebellion against the previous PNM administration and, if need be, the same can be done against the Augustine administration.
“If they continue to refuse Roxborough the opportunity for employment, the opportunity to collect housing grants and to be treated fairly as anyone else within Tobago – the punishment must stop.”
He said the administration is trying to undermine his leadership and issued a strong warning.
“Please desist and cease from attacking the people of Roxborough and ignoring their cries. They’ve had enough, and they are the ones who started the rebellion, they are the ones who caused Tobago to turn around and support the PDP. The PDP party was launched in Roxborough, it was launched in a spirit of resistance, a spirit of equality for all, and very soon, if they continue ignoring the cries of my constituency, we will have to find an appropriate action to display to remind them that we are not going to allow this stupidness to happen.”
Duke's charge against Augustine came the day after Duke called on him to join forces with him, even as he said he would consider Augustine a "political enemy" if he remained silent.
Augustine and the THA executive elected under the PDP are now part of a new party, the Tobago People's Party. The split from the PDP evolved from a public spat Duke had with Augustine over the treatment of a Roxborough cultural delegation in New York that grew into accusations of political discrimination.