The San Fernando City Corporation is moving to deal with the city’s street dwelling issue and provide utilities for squatters residing on State lands.
The corporation held its monthly statutory meeting yesterday at City Hall, San Fernando.
On the issue of street dwelling, Alderman Vidya Mungal-Bissessar said meetings and public consultations with representatives from the Ministry of the People and Social Development, Social Displacement Unit and other stakeholders were a success.
Mungal-Bissessar said it was important to first house the socially displaced somewhere safe and have a proper database with correct information on each individual.
“We need to get them (street dwellers) off the streets to somewhere safe, create a database and move from there,” she said.
She said at the consultation, issues such as substance abuse and mental health were identified and counselling is another measure to be put in place.
San Fernando Mayor Kazim Hosein conducted a study where 210 homeless people were identified living on the streets of San Fernando.
Mungal-Bissessar said funding is a major issue but with the commitment given by many stakeholders to assist, it would become a reality around December.
Deputy Mayor Junia Regrello said, “This City Council stands ready to make a lasting and hopefully innovative contribution to the national strategy for tackling street dwelling in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Councillor Rondell Adrian Donowa of the Cocoyea/Tarouba electoral district, thanked several ministers for their positive responses for assistance to squatters.
Donowa said he wrote to Minister of Public Utilities Nizam Baksh, Minister of Works and Infrastructure Surujrattan Rambachan and Minister of Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh, regarding accessing basic utilities which include water, infrastructure and electricity.
He said Baksh wrote to T&TEC (Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission) for the provision of electricity services to squatters on State lands and lands belonging to State enterprises.
Baksh wrote, “Where utility service lines exist on State lands, and, lands belonging to State enterprises, all squatters on these lands be provided, upon application, with electricity and water connections pending the relevant regularisation arrangements to be implemented for their eventual settlement or relocation by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development”.
Donowa said various site visits were conducted by the ministries under the PURE (Programme for Upgrading Road Efficiency) programme and works are to start in the last quarter of this year.
Donowa also said he will represent the people and meet with the Land Settlement Agency to regularise those residents who were not already regularised.