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‘Pushed aside and forgotten’ on the north-east coast

Sunday, July 16, 2017
Brenton Antoine weighs potatoes in his shop. PHOTOS: RHONDA RAMBALLY

Villagers along the north-eastern coastline have a luxury that those in the urban areas do not have—a breathtaking panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

While they enjoy the simplicities of rural life, many of them are not too happy always being pushed aside and forgotten by the relevant authorities.

The Sunday Guardian visited villages such as Toco, L’anse Noir and Sans Souci to speak to residents about everyday life in the north-east coast.

Some complained about the lack of development, poor roads, drugs and unemployment.

Residents either work in the Public Service or depend on agriculture and fishing as a means of survival. While there are schools and health centres, some residents believe more could be done to uplift the rural part of the country that seems to be forgotten by many. Here are the views of some of the people who spoke to the Sunday Guardian.

Barney Marryshow:

We always have problem and these people (Government) not coming to the realisation of what they doing. They looking to segregate. I have children and grandchildren. I am a welder and I have nothing to do. I can’t get work. I have six children...that is mouths to feed. You have to make what you have do. Trinidadians getting fed up. Employment always slow in Toco. You have choices—government worker or the bush or the sea. Toco is a cool place.

Gillon Henry, 24:

I living here two years now. I moved from Maracas Bay. I have three kids—seven, six, and two and a half years. I wish they could develop here. Selling is my only livelihood. I make enough to care for my family. There is land all over, if they could build a little court for children to play...I will keep my kids home for the holidays.

Brenton Antoine:

I am selling about a month now. I used to sell produce before but wasn’t making much. So far, people supporting me. I born and grow here. The roads need fixing. We tell them and show them and then no feedback. We sit and wait like fools.

Dave: Right now the Government not doing nothing for we. We have no other choice to go in the bush and do what you have to do. Nobody wants to do it but man have to live. I sell a bag of seamoss for $20 or $25. Sometimes I might sell one or two packs. People might come and buy by the bag for like a $400. I selling years now, since I small growing up...generation to generation. I have a daughter who is 11. Up here, you don’t really hear about crime and thing but if it have, villagers will deal with that. Crime like shooting and killing, you don’t get that here.

Karl: My issue is to reintroduce flogging in school and where a parent can hit a child. What can be done? They put a law not to touch children. Look at the crime in the country.

Lawrence Gonzales, 69:

Sitting on a fallen coconut tree by the picturesque Big Bay, he said: I live here my whole life. I resigned from the corporation. Here is more agriculture. Some will go in the sea. Three years now we have not had a crime.

Reynold Campbell, 73:

We like living up here. We have a problem with the buses. Sometimes you see it, then you don’t for weeks. I fed up complain. Sometimes twice a week I will go Sangre Grande. Sometimes we make groceries in the area or out town. We go and get all our stuff done in a day, you know.

Neville Peters, 63:

The illicit drug trade, if you know what I mean, is a problem. Fellas between the ages of 16 to 25, there we have a serious problem. They have nothing to motivate them. We need people constantly behind the scenes. It is not like they do not want to work the land or go into the sea. They think of the income...the fast cash. We have plenty land up here but not everybody wants to work it. They have short programmes. They start with large turnout but along the way, they drop out.

Shop owner, Rosalyn:

I make sufficient to support my family. However, in the last two years it has gotten very slow. One or two people when they run out, they will buy. The roads are bad. About four or five years now a piece of road and drain the same way. I went and complain but nothing is being done. We get accustomed to village life. The village council is active and they are trying hard. We have no street lights here (Sans Souci). I see they are patching the road. I hope is not so they are leaving it. We don’t have much crime. I go once a month to Grande, just to pay bills.

Good things come to those who wait: Rondon

Chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation and councillor for the area Terry Rondon said he was aware people of Toco and environs have been waiting a long time for improvement.

“I know they feel they have nothing, but I ask the people to bear with us. The country is going through a financial strain and the Government is trying its best to ensure citizens are comfortable.”

He said a major project in the area was the construction of the Valencia to Toco highway. “I am anxiously awaiting that.”

He added that all fishing ports will be developed; agricultural access will be improved; a farmer’s market will be set up in Valencia and roads are being repaired in Matelot.

“It has been a long time but good things come to those who wait.”


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