Sunday, December 17, 2017

Forward, Chaguanas; backward, Port of Spain

 A $20 million upgrade approved for the Chaguanas market should contribute substantially to enhancing amenities in that borough which wants to be a city. The market has stood as the signature landmark and centrepiece of the booming and bustling centre of shopping, business and administration that Chaguanas has become.

 Improvement works on the market, announced by Local Government Minister Marlene Coudray, will target the roof, facade, electrical, ventilation and fire prevention systems. At a time of heightened concerns about the adequacy of conditions inside state structures, the Minister promoted the Chaguanas upgrade as “essential in promoting an environment that can meet health and safety needs”. 

 For this, funds had apparently been approved two years before. But, Ms Coudray said, work, for various reasons, never started. 

Amid the rhythm of anticipated election-year developments, no such difficulties are likely to be left in the way of moving forward such a high-profile project in a conceivable electoral battleground. Located within easy reach of farming and fishing areas, and heavily patronised by shoppers, the Chaguanas market has long been a success story, crying out for expansion and advancement toward meeting today’s environmental standards and heightened expectations of facilities and accommodations for vendors and customers.

 Chaguanas, then, assured of being favoured with the market it deserves, will be that much better placed for long-awaited city status. People of what is still a borough will thus have been gratified by Opposition Leader Keith Rowley’s commitment of the PNM last month to the cause of Chaguanas’ city status.

With the idea of a new market in a new city apparently enjoying bipartisan support, it looks like full speed ahead for the physical and administrative advancement of Chaguanas. Such is the momentum in this direction that a public consultation has been advertised for July 17 by Mayor Gopaul Boodhan, significantly headlined “Borough to City”.

If a city of Chaguanas, bisecting the southbound highway from Port of Spain to San Fernando, is on the cards, thoughts will inevitably turn to developments in other areas, that may or may not look as promising. 

 Whatever, then, will be the future of the Central Market, off the Beetham Highway and Abattoir Road in Port of Spain? Nearly a year ago, tenders were being invited for the “upgrade” of that market. 

 That such “upgrade” remains only on some authority’s wish list somewhere is borne out by any casual look at the place. Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee was reported last week taking a highly critical look when he visited the place. 

 Neglected, and abandoned by most vendors and shoppers, the Central Market offers a less than prepossessing appearance. The capital city’s market is overdue for the constructive attention, focus and investment such as is made available for Chaguanas.