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Demming: The East Dry River voted PNM for over-40 years and what did they get?

“It’s true that things are always changing, but I expected that some of the change would have been for the better. Instead the evidence of poverty was ‘in yuh face’ as ‘halfway-falling down’ homes, piles of garbage on the corners, roaming stray dogs, and the vine-covered trailer truck that once housed the Syncopaters steelband told a story of a community in decline.

“I wondered about the plan for resuscitation and renewal.”

The following Letter to the Editor on life in the East Dry River was submitted to Wired868 by Dennise Demming:

Photo: Whaddap, cocoyea! A PNM supporter celebrates at Balisier House after the election results on 7 September 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Recently I returned to the place of my childhood, Quarry Street, East Dry River. It was just 7:30 pm and the streets were quiet. There were no families sitting outside, no fellas liming under the street light; just an eerie quiet. I noticed that there were several cars neatly parked on one side of the street.

It struck me that this street of my childhood was no longer a neat row of houses with plants in the front, filled with the laughter of families enjoying the evening breeze from their galleries.

The quiet was troubling and I wondered out loud: “Why have people stopped passing time under the streetlights and on the corners?”

My passenger exclaimed: “Girlfriend, they fraid gun toting bandits!”

Equally troubling was the dilapidated buildings which dotted this one-mile stretch from Observatory Street to the top of Quarry Street.

It’s true that things are always changing, but I expected that some of the change would have been for the better. Instead the evidence of poverty was ‘in yuh face’ as ‘halfway-falling down’ homes, piles of garbage on the corners, roaming stray dogs, and the vine-covered trailer truck that once housed the Syncopaters steelband told a story of a community in decline. I wondered about the plan for resuscitation and renewal.

Photo: Motorcycle policemen perform during 2017 Independence Day celebrations.
(Copyright Office of the Prime Minister)

My reason for being there was to drop someone home. Our journey was filled with nervous chatter about the dangers of living in such an area and having to rely on unlicensed public transportation—unregistered drivers using their cars as taxis, which exists in the absence of any formal system in that area.

Transportation there has always been problematic; and, for the past 50 years, no government has worked on finding solutions.

This is just one example of a wicked problem crying out for a solution. This area voted for the PNM at every election except for 1986—when they temporarily supported the NAR. It is not surprising that this community has been ghettoised over the past 40-something years, but it is time to try a different engagement strategy which takes the residents into consideration.

A strategy of collaboration across the community with all stakeholders being accountable for the outcomes is necessary. The people who live in this community enjoy easy access to the city and are often not interested in moving out. They just want basic opportunities to live a safe life.

Breathing new life into that community can begin by simply helping residents unravel the ownership of the lands on which their houses are built.

More immediate solutions can focus on improving the street lights, embarking on clean-up campaigns and even encouraging residents to start ‘grow box’ initiatives.

Photos: Patrons enjoy the festivities during Trinidad and Tobago’s 2016 Independence Day Parade.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The rebirth and revitalisation of our troubled communities is not only a government responsibility, it is an opportunity for collaboration; and once successful in one area, it has the potential to spread like wildfire to other communities.

Two important factors in the quality of life are housing and transportation—both of which proved to be unsolvable by our current politicians.

What we need are politicians with vision, empathy and backbone who are prepared to provide inspired leadership.

About Dennise Demming

Dennise Demming
Dennise Demming is an Adjunct Faculty Member at UWI, Media and Communications Strategist, TEDxPOS organiser and co-licensee for TEDxPortofSpain and Chairman of the Board at TTTHTI. Dennise, who grew up in East POS, also has a Business MBA and B.Sc. in Political Science & Public Administration and Mass Communications from UWI.

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23 comments

  1. Visit during the day Denise. DD searching for relevance. That is my TEDTALK .. You are welcome

  2. ask what is happening throughout TT

  3. Y allyuh keep voting for them?
    And by d way allyuh still paying 10$ ah month rent.and looking for 10 days?

  4. My father and grandfather are from the EDR and yes pnm did nothing for the people…

  5. These communities received a lot of contracts and money ,they gave to the so called community leaders who used it to advance their own causes ,they might share with the community by way of parties,mamaguy antics.a lot of resources goes out to these communities but they’re not utilized properly

  6. ah want to see how much of them boycott d PM ball.

  7. There you go. When people are groomed and bribed to sycophantic levels over 40 years its no surprise that cognitive dissonance rules. The parties are boring, have no new ideas just finding new ways to sell old rum to the masses. Dull their brains. The wetting of Fitz incident showed that the younger gen are not necessarily buying the party mantra or are indeed buyable. France showed how fightibg oppression can elicit changes out of politicians. But people dont realise they can fight the power. Its shameful to see people living without decent services 40 yrs after so much money passed through this country.

  8. Ah lot of community r closed all over d country not sure what is d reason for it.

  9. People are slowly getting aware not even a decent community centre or an after school centre in the area and not too many good role models.

    • Sometimes they don’t even have this. But whats the hard part, the politics [both parties] LOVES buildings and the possible kickbacks involved, but most times the community is ill-equipped, incapable and not financed to manage or create programs to fully utilize the significant investment.