Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley today said plans to revitalise the capital, Port of Spain, as a 21st century city, are also intended to improve local economic viability and to provide a quality environment for residents, local visitors and international tourists.
Speaking at the launch of the “Rejuvenation of the City of Port of Spain,’ Rowley said decades, Port of Spain has been experiencing considerable urban decay manifesting itself “in a myriad of challenges such as reduced private sector investment, depopulation, abandonment and decrepit infrastructure, unemployment, destitution and high levels of crime”.
He said his government when it first came to office in 2015 had established the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development with the intention to tackle this and similar problems.
“In order to overcome the adverse conditions….it is imperative that the government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago embark upon a programme of urban revitalisation. This programme would improve and rehabilitate the capital city, restore its life and vibrancy, improve traffic circulation, enhance property values, discourage criminal activity, unlock private capital and stimulate the economy”.
The government said between 1968 and 2015, there had been at least 16 plans for the re-development of the city including the restoration and upgrade of the historical architectural treasures such as The Red House, which houses the Parliament, Whitehall, which houses the office of the prime minister and the President House.
Rowley said in addition to these projects, the government has entered into a contract with the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (UDeCOTT) to develop a master plan for the revitalisation of Port of Spain by identifying projects in both private and public sector which would stimulate development in the capital.
EDeCOTT will also act as clearing house and/or catalyst for all developmental projects identified in the master plan and will enter into Public Private Partnership (PPP) Arrangements with developers for implementation of projects at State-owned properties as well as identify and implement priority projects to kick-start the Revitalisation Programme.
He said the objective of the launch on Monday is to engage active dialogue with all major stakeholders, including the business community, academia and non-government organisations as well as residents to solicit feedback on the Master Plan for the city of Port of Spain.
But Rowley said that unlike other plans that projected a kind of “decentralisation” policy which stimulates the sustained decay of the capital city, his administration believes that the capital city “ is a major economic engine which, if oiled and maintained will create increased opportunity and benefit for a wide cross section of the national population.
In addition, focus will be placed on the necessary infrastructure, transportation networks and other services which are desirable to ensure success of the revitalisation of Port of Spain, he said.
He said this latest plan had been the subject of a public consultation held in September last year and that the final report was submitted to UDeCOTT in February this year.
Rowley said that the master plan also identifies several projects as catalyst projects to be implemented through the PPP in several areas of the capital.
But he said in order to successfully undertake these development initiatives, relevant stakeholders are being informed of the status of the Revitalisation of Port of Spain Project and engaged to reliably effect change and stimulate discussions.