THA blocks Sport Ministry's use of Black Rock facility

THA Secretary of Community Development, Youth Development and Sport Terance Baynes. - Photo courtesy THA
THA Secretary of Community Development, Youth Development and Sport Terance Baynes. - Photo courtesy THA

THA Secretary of Community Development, Youth Development and Sport Terance Baynes and Minister of Community Development and Sport Shamfa Cudjoe-Lewis have locked horns over jurisdiction of the Black Rock Community Centre, Tobago, which was to be used for the ministry’s vocational skills training programme.

In a post on her Facebook page, Cudjoe-Lewis said for more than 60 years, the ministry has been providing assistance through grants, training and technical support to village councils, community groups and individuals in Tobago.

She added applications and requests from Tobago for the ministry’s offerings have grown tremendously over the years “and we continue to support and provide assistance to the best of our ability, all towards investing in Tobagonians and contributing to Tobago’s development.”

But Cudjoe-Lewis said last week, three days before the beginning of ministry’s skills training programme, “the goodly pastor-secretary threatened to take back the keys from the Black Rock Village council.”

As a result, she said, “We had to immediately redirect our efforts into finding another location to conduct training. Praise be to God and thanks to good Samaritans, we are now delivering our skills training programme to not one but two locations in Tobago.”

Cudjoe-Lewis, who is also the Tobago West MP, said the response from the participants has been encouraging and the facilitators are “charged up and going the distance.”

Minister of Community Development and Sport Shamfa Cudjoe-Lewis. - File photo by Angelo Marcelle

But in a video on his Facebook page on April 18, Baynes, who is in New York attending the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) 2024 Youth Forum, said the Black Rock Community Centre falls under the purview of his division.

He added it has been used for his division’s vocation skills training programme in the past.

But Baynes claimed “a subsidiary of the Ministry of Community Development and Sport, under the purview of Minister Shamfa Cudjoe, applied and was granted permission to use the facility by an entity that is not authorised so to do.

“That permission contradicts what we are trying to do, because the classes are, in large part, the same classes that community development (ministry) are offering and also displacing community development (division) in the execution of the classes.”

Baynes said the officer who gave the permission was called to a meeting in which he was told that the decision had to be “reversed forthwith because of the clash and because it is a contradiction to what we are doing.”

He claimed the officer, at that meeting, said that he understood and was going to make alternative arrangements, “but seemed to decide for whatever reason, that he was not going to keep his side of the agreement."

Baynes said he subsequently sent a “comprehensive” internal memo to the division’s administrator and staff detailing some of the challenges, “because this is not the first time that something like this has happened.”

He added there must be a relationship of mutual respect.

“Because you, as an individual cannot have a man coming to your house, using your facilities and not having any conversation with you. Who does that?”

Saying Tobagonians are generally peaceful people, Baynes said, “I think the time has come for us to defend this institution that we call the THA, that we must stand up for that which we think is right and a very clear message must be sent that where the laws says there must be collaboration, that is all that we want.

“I will not stand idly by and let anything be hatched outside of Tobago and foisted on the Tobago people and use the facilities of the THA. I have been given a responsibility to manage and I will do that to the best of my ability.”


"THA blocks Sport Ministry’s use of Black Rock facility"

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