Sunday 20 October, 2019

Major development projects planned for PoS

Port-of-Spain is set to get a major facelift as the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) has been engaged to develop a master plan for the revitalisation of the capital city. 

The plan will include restoration of historic buildings, development of residential spaces, traffic management and several other projects to be implemented on a phased basis. 

Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said the idea is to make Port of Spain into a place where people can live, work and recreate comfortably.

She was speaking during a consultation held at the Government Campus Plaza on Wednesday night. 

She said two major projects have already been identified for imminent execution - the development of UDeCOTT's Keate Street property and the development of the Powergen compound at Wrightson Road. 

Delivering a presentation, UDeCOTT representative Ravi Ramkelawan said the city is in "decay" and in urgent need of development. 

"If we don't act now, the constant decay of our city and disrepair and dilapidation will continue to grow."

Ramkelawan said shifting of commercial activity, insufficient residential properties, homelessness and traffic congestion within the city has contributed to the decay. He also pointed to insufficient lighting, drainage and security as major issue facing the capital city. 

"We need residences back in. We need commerce. We need entertainment and recreation and all the associations that goes with it."

He noted that UDeCOTT has already completed several projects and has several others ongoing including President's House, Stollmeyer Castle, WhiteHall, the Red House and the National Academy for the Performing Arts. 

Some of the projects to be implemented going forward will be the Memorial Plaza project, the Salvatori Building project, the Piccadilly Development project, the Foreshore Green Park and a Public Trams system. These are to be undertaken via a public/private partnership arrangement. 

But, in giving his feedback, President of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) Gregory Aboud took issue with the manner of the consultation. 

"My understanding of a consultation is that you call us to ask us what our views are or what projects we would like to recommend, as opposed to you calling us to a consultation and telling us what you are going to do," he stated.

Aboud said many of the initiatives announced like drainage, security, cleaning of the city is the responsibility of the government. 

"It is not our jobs. And those are the issues affecting us, your ability to implement those jobs."

Aboud said the city needs investment and commerce but he said many letters have been written to successive governments making recommendations but none have been acknowledged. 

Aboud suggested the establishment of a green market as well as the conversion of Tragarete Road and Ariapita Avenue to one-way roads going East and West respectively. He said the latter was done in the past and was successful in alleviating traffic. 

Members of the public were able to share their views and suggestions for the city. 

Robinson-Regis said the feedback will be taken into account in the development of the Port-of-Spain master plan. 

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