It’s About Time to Develop Laventille

By Michael De Gale
August 15, 2007

LaventilleThe government’s intention to develop Laventille though politically tactical is also vitally necessary if the social ills of this area are to be alleviated. Not only does this make economic sense but strategic investments in troubled communities are a sure way to address the social evils which has historically plagued communities where poverty rules supreme. Progressive social thinkers supported by statistics, shows that crime thrives where hope is stifled. Survival has always been the law of the jungle whether literally or metaphorically speaking.

Studies have shown that communities that encompass business, recreational facilities, educational institutions, easy access to medical care and integrated housing become thriving communities because the main stake holders are those who live and work in these areas. However, to stop with the development of Lavantille is to short change the society as a whole. The present administration must embark vigorously on the development of a national poverty reduction strategy, involving the private sector and socially progressive organizations. This strategy must include sustainable jobs at living wages, affordable child care services, investments in health and education, as well as greater access to post-secondary education and skills training. There has never been a better opportunity for social and economic development in the past and the future is unlikely to produce similar opportunities as the climatic effects of fossil fuels is raising concerns globally.

A long term poverty reduction strategy would serve as a road map showing how government intends to address social problems other than the creation of additional incarceration facilities. The net effect of social investments will mean that the society as a whole will be the real beneficiary. In essence, give the poor a stake in the country and reasons to love T&T beyond soca, liming and perpetual bacchanal.

This however, should not be done without addressing Trinbagonians work ethics which leaves much to be desired. A public education campaign must be mounted to address this anti-productive / progressive issue. It is my contention, that Trinbagonians lackadaisical approach to work opened the door to imported Chinese labourers leaving the locals with idle hands in empty pockets.

I have been involved in programs where the government and the private sector joined forces to address the issues of youth gang violence, disproportionately high unemployment and geographic stigmatization in “priority neighbourhoods”. While this work continues, the initial transformation and optimism was – to say the least – remarkable.

For the visionary, Laventille is arguably one of the most desirable pieces of real estate in the heart of Port of Spain. With an arresting view of the city, this mountainous land mass also provides an unobstructed bird’s eye view of the blue Caribbean Sea. A diamond in the rough if you prefer. In the hands of profit driven investors and land developers, this apparent shanty town has the potential to become the most highly priced and sought after place to live in the city of POS. As a developed area, it will encompass unparallel beauty, convenience and modernity. This dichotomy means that the risk of gentrification can become a real and potentially thorny issue and must be zealously guarded against. In a sense, Laventille’s hopes also contain the seed of its ultimate destruction. However, with eternal vigilance, gentrification could be avoided and the area could be developed for the benefit of its existing residents and the preservation of its enduring history. For its eternal support of the PNM, I could think of no better place where social development should start. Enough with broken promises! It’s about time to bring out the bulldozers and to help the proud residents of Laventille realize their fullest potential.

6 Responses to “It’s About Time to Develop Laventille”

  • Anyone who has had the courage to drive over the Laventille Hills from the Lady Young Road into Belmont knows that these hills have an unsurpassedly beautiful and panoramic view of the city and country, right up to and including San Fernando Hill and Mt.Tamana. It reminded me of the saying “on a clear day, you could see forever.” The state must ensure that these “squatters” enjoy the best of squatters rights, and get to enjoy these views in the future, before greedy developers grab it and price it out of the market for poor peoople. At the same time, the state must ensure that a recent clamourous gang/gangs of new squatters not exert a more vociferous clain that will upstage the ones who were there all along.

    Along with new development there is the need to teach people to keep their houses, streets and waterways fee of the clutter that threatens to drown Port-of-Spain every time it rains.

    (No, I didn’t go there alone. A clergyman attached to Trinity Cathedral drove me across the hills. He does not recommend a night-time trip)

  • Yes, Laventille has to be developed the history has to be preserved and its citizens a part of the planning process. I remember going to the catholic church and viewing the sea from there as a child I was in awe. The government needs to invest into a housing scheme for the people. If private investors get a hold of that area the citizens will more than likely face discrimination to buy in their housins scheme and development. The beautification and development is needed. Laventille is part of the scenic route to the city. The view definitely need a change it can be a turn off to visitors. Do the right thing!

  • In my opinion, I feel that the government of Trinidad & Tobago must create a proper infrastructure towards their foreign immigration policy before anything else. Before the country’s independence, the government was always nonchalant; allowing outsiders from Grenada, Guyana and St. Vincent to enter the country illegally. Believe it or not, most of the crime in Laventille and Claxton Bay are conducted by non-trinidadians who are fugitives from their native country. They not only squat in Trinidad, but also in other caribbean nations such as Barbados. The difference between Trinidad & Tobago and all the other caribbean nations is that the majority of caribbean islands have a “Zero Tolerence” policy on illegal immigration; Trinidad & Tobago does not. The only solution to improve Laventille’s socio-econmoic conditions is to deport all of the “non-trini” laventilleans. Most of the young people of laventille, who engage in drug-dealing and gang warfare, are descendents of these non-trinidadians of laventille. These squatters entered the country with no documentation, such as birth papers and/or passport to validate their right to Trinidad & Tobago citizenship. For example, if a Trinidadian enters the United States illegally, the U.S. government will become reluctant to facilitate his or her needs. Therefore, that person will become a potential threat and eventually face the penalty of deportation. The incessant crime and poverty in Laventille is a result of the hills’ squatters, who are having children and are financially incapable of raising them. Consequently, the only alternative is to sell drugs, which became the initial source of income for most “poverty-stricken laventille foreigners”, especially their offspring. Overall, Trinidad & Tobago has a lot of work to do, regarding their internal and foreign affairs.

  • Justin, go light ah diya and stop trying to impersonate an immigration officer.. I know you don’t hold the same views when it come to Barbados and their immigration issue..
    And don’t drink and drive down that TUBAL URIAH ‘BUZZ’ BUTLER Highway either..

    Now Trinicenter, can we have some info on our Afric(k)an brothers and sisters living under this RSS type government in Guyana..

  • Roger…whoever you are(which I don’t care), you seem to be somewhat sensitive to my views, regarding Laventille squatters. If I assume that you’re probably a “trinidadian by boat”, then I’m happy to know that I made you feel uncomfortable. I’m not apologetic for what I said because it is based on my experience and education. As far as I’m concerned, the only non-trinidadian who has made a positive contribution to the housing development in Laventille was Nathaniel Straker(who came to Trinidad in his early adulthood from St Vincent). If you have any knowledge of who he is, that is wonderful! However, if you lack any knowledge of Nathaniel Straker, that is your problem…not mine. Furthermore, if you read any Trinidad newspaper, you will find many recent articles about foreigners who were arrested in Trinidad for drug-smuggling and/or prostitution. As I said before, the government needs to rectify the nation’s foreign and internal affairs, instead of implementing an idiotic “crime reduction programme” that will fall by the wayside; just like their silly “Crime Stoppers” initiative that became a waste of time and money. Apparently,(ROBERT.. if that’s your real name), you seem to be out of touch with the social and econmoic issues of Trinidad & Tobago, which (unfortunately) most trinidadians of the 21st century become complacent and illiterate with their information. Or is it the fact that you just want to hear yourself talk to attract an audience??? WOW! Another class-clown….Don’t quite your day job Robert! You can fool everybody on this blog page but yuh can’t fool me. I’m a native trinidadian from Belmont who was in and out of the system…from St. Anns Forensic Ward to Golden Grove. If you have nothing informational to share with the general public, keep your mouth shut! Do you catch my drift?

  • But Justin, how come you did not call for a T&T to exclude Wyatt Gallery from T&T?
    Have a good night.

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