Former mayor Louis Lee Sing said it was important not to dismiss Downtown Owners and Merchants’ Association (DOMA) president Gregory Aboud’s view that “Port of Spain is a dying city” as “hysteria”.
While Lee Sing said he would welcome the “cable car” initiative touted by Minister of Planning and Development Dr Bhoe Tewarie, he also said it was important for people to understand the relationship between the cable car and the City Gate transport hub at South Quay, Port of Spain.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Lee Sing said: “If Aboud is saying ‘the city is dying’, it is not hysteria. It is not the rantings of a hysterical man. The comments are real and not imagined.”
Aboud made the comment at a stakeholders meeting on the city’s development at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, on Wednesday.
Planning Minister Tewarie; Richard Young, chairman of the Economic Development Board; Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee; and Catherine Kumar, chief executive officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce, were present.
Asked about the proposal for setting up a cable-car link from Fort Picton into the capital city, Lee Sing said: “We continue to have difficulty because no one has presented a comprehensive plan for which the public is aware and no one has a listing.
“The cable car constitutes part of the transport from and to the Central Market and major area of the City Gate transport hub, at South Quay, and Central Port of Spain Market. If that is done, it will allow people who have difficulties in going to the Central Market much more easier access. And it will open up the heart of Laventille to develop some measure of tourism. For the average man, it is like counting ‘pie in the sky’.
Lee Sing also said he welcomed any initiative that would include the people from East Port of Spain.
During his tenure as mayor of Port of Spain, Lee Sing said he had proposed two pedestrian malls for Charlotte and Henry Streets.
“If we had done it, we would have been able to take all the street vendors off the street. There would have absolutely no vending.”
Also asked about the cable-car proposal, Laventille West MP Nileung Hypolite said there were more urgent matters, like fixing schools in East Port of Spain.
In a telephone interview, Hypolite said: “I think it is an innovative idea that is not needed at this point in time. The millions that are to be used for that project can be channelled in a different direction to improve on the infrastructure of the schools throughout East Port of Spain.
“The monies can be used for fixing the police station, recreational grounds, roads and drainage. There are lots of landslides and the need for retaining walls behind people’s homes. There is the need to have a better mail system throughout the Laventille communities. People are suffering from lack of basic infrastructure.”
Hypolite continued to paint a grim picture of the state of the schools. “Children cannot go to school because the schools are in a terrible state. Escalier Primary School is not in a good state and St Phillip’s Primary School (opposite the market) has been closed since Carnival. Children within the Canada area cannot go to school because the toilets are not functioning.”
He said millions will be used to have a cable car up in the air and running from Fort Picton to the Central Market, with the objective to assist with traffic.
“It is nonsensical because we don’t have traffic down Picton Hill.”
Asked about the general state of the city and the cable-car idea, Tim Kee, who has been on the job for six months, said: “It might take several meetings. There is not enough yet on the table to make a statement. I will make a statement when I have more information.”