A bitter row is brewing over the city's traffic plan, forcing Opposition MP Marlene McDonald to take to the streets of Port of Spain tomorrow to lead a "Walk for Life" to demand that the traffic be reverted to its previous form.
Port of Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing came under fire at a meeting at the St James Amphitheatre on Wednesday night as McDonald made it clear his views were not reflective of the People's National Movement (PNM).
She told the people that both Lee Sing and Works Minister Emmanuel George had ignored her calls and letters to meet with them to discuss the concerns of her constituents of St James and Woodbook.
McDonald said it was now "time for action" as she reiterated her commitment to stand with her constituents.
The walk, she said, would take place tomorrow and she asked that people come out in their numbers in white apparel and assemble at Courts furniture store at the corner of Long Circular Road and Western Main Road at 9.15 a.m.
This move, said McDonald, comes after she hand-delivered a petition with over 2,000 signatures of persons against the plan to Lee Sing and George, who both remained unperturbed.
McDonald criticised Lee Sing, who has reportedly said that St James businesses were not "real" if they are being forced to close up shop days after the implementation of the traffic plan.
"I want to assure you all here, this evening, that I am not an appointed person and the position the mayor has taken is not the position of the PNM. I am the elected official for Port of Spain South, which includes Woodbrook and St James, so whenever the elected persons speak, look at what that person is saying and whatever I say represents the views of the PNM," she said. "I thought that the statement was most unfortunate, I want to tell you I want to apologise on his behalf but I am not going to do that, I am not doing that at all, let him apologise for himself," said McDonald.
Contacted yesterday by phone, Lee Sing said McDonald had crossed the line.
Lee Sing said he stood by his words with respect to St James businesses. "I made the point that, if after eight days of a traffic plan, someone can say they have lost 70 per cent of their business then something was wrong with the business," he said.
Lee Sing said the plan was urgently needed or else, there would have been traffic gridlock.
He said he had no regrets whatsoever in implementing the traffic plan, adding that he had met with the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) yesterday morning whose members were in support of the plan.
"The only persons who seem aggrieved over this plan are the people who live in St James and Woodbrook. The plan is a national plan," said Lee Sing, who added that citizens needed to adjust.
Lee Sing said he was "conscious" of the concerns raised by the residents and businesses of St James of Woodbrook, but he added that it would take some time for things to settle down.
He added that he went into St James on Wednesday night and was able to get parking, which was difficult before.
Lee Sing said he asked Ministry officials to consider alternate parking between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The traffic plan went into effect on July 16 with Ariapita Avenue traffic being converted to one-way east and traffic on the Western Main Road and Tragarete Road, Port of Spain, converted to one-way west. There are also parking restrictions on these major roadways between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m to