FOOD vendors at yesterday's $4.5 million Laventille Community Renewal family day at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain were left with a major financial headache as a result of dismal sales.
As the event organised by the Ministry of National Security neared its end, several dejected vendors had little choice but to give away the delicacies, which included bake and shark, chicken and fries, barbecue and corn soup.
But even their efforts to get the food off their hands posed a challenge, as most of the patrons had already left or were enjoying the entertainment at the main stage area in front of the Grand Stand.
By five o'clock, the food court area was practically deserted.
"It didn't really have no set of people coming to buy food," one woman said.
"We were expecting much more people than this."
Vendors told the Express, however, they were promised reimbursement for their losses.
The event was aimed at putting systems in place to improve the lives of those who live in the East Port of Spain community. However, several people interviewed left the Queen's Park Savannah unsure about the direct impact the initiative would have on their future.
One man told the Express he believes the money would have been better spent if it were directly injected into the community.
"I don't know at the end of the day how it will benefit people," he said.
"However, based on what I saw, there was a lot of participation in group sports. It was well organised. Groups were well represented. However, I expected there to be more people coming out to this."
A police officer who wished not to be identified described the event as a good one. He said it is up to the people of Laventille to determine how it will benefit them.
Susan Samuel said while there were several companies present with job application forms, she is not certain how many people would actually find employment.
"How many unemployed people who came here today possess the kind of qualifications and experience required to fill vacancies at those companies? I don't really know."
The event featured over 100 booths with several Government ministries and private corporate enterprises represented. These included the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Sport, the Ministry of Agriculture, Youth Empowerment through Quality Training (YTEPP), Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC), Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), Ansa McAL, SM Jaleel, Amalgamated Security and Protective Agencies Ltd.
The sport events, which included cricket, netball, football, morals, hop scotch and the mini marathon, were well patronised.
National Security Minister Jack Warner described the event as a tremendous success. "In fact, one company had over 300 jobs, another had over 200," Warner said.
"I was very pleased with the fact that there are jobs out there and there are people who are unemployed. So it seems to me that there needs to be a nexus between the jobs and the people, and therefore what I have to do now, with the Police Commissioner, is to create a unit that will bring the people to the jobs, so to speak.
"The camaraderie was very good, the young children enjoyed themselves, the sport events were very good and therefore I am extremely satisfied."
Asked to comment on the criticism by some that the $4.5 million could have been better spent, Warner said his critics were the ones who spent millions of dollars on the defective boat MV Su.
"Those same critics spent over one billion dollars on a stadium. But from the time you spend money on Laventille, everybody asking questions. I want no part of that."
Warner said a Christmas event for the children of Laventille is now being planned.
Among the entertainers who crossed the stage were former National Calypso Monarchs Singing Sandra, Karene Asche, David Rudder and Black Stalin, backed by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Band. Also in the line-up were North West Laventille Folk Performers, Muhamad Muwakil, Shiv Shakti Dancers and Maximus Dan.