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Earning $$ or just ‘breezing out’ on the promenade

Lara Pickford-Gordon lpgordon.camsel@rcpos.org

On May 2, the 50th birthday of cricket star Brian Lara the man after whom the promenade is named, Mayor of Port of Spain Joel Martinez and officials of the Corporation were looking at ways to improve the recreational space.

He said, “I am taking a tour today because I have started working on the ambience of the promenade.” He said enhancements were made to Woodford Square, Memorial Park and started on the promenade but more would be done to return it “to the pristine condition it had many years ago”. He added, “My mission together with the city council is to ensure this promenade comes back to that look where people are going to enjoy and feel very comfortable with the surroundings”.

Construction began on the promenade in 1993 and it was opened August 1995. The National Archives website states: “Many activities are conducted on the Promenade including entertainment events, programmes celebrating different national festivals and exhibitions. It is estimated that over 127,000 people cross the Promenade on any given day” (www.natt.gov.tt).

Upgrades according to the mayor will include replanting grass on the “brown spots”, washing down the tables and chairs, re-installing lighting, removing rotted trees, and repairs to damaged garbage receptacles. The upgrade of the promenade is part of a wider plan to restore the nation’s capital.

Martinez plans to solicit help from the business community for upkeep of the promenade. The littering around the promenade will also be addressed. “We are going to re-employ wardens to traverse the promenade and some young police officers to be able to have the power of arrest so we are going to use that mechanism to get them to change their habits.” Signs will be erected telling the public, “what is allowed and not allowed on the promenade”.

For the regulars to the promenade like Allan Forde, the promenade upgrade is welcome news but he feels it will all come to naught without security guards. Forde, a resident of Port of Spain commented, “If you have a watchman, they will not mash up certain things like benches…once you upgrade and no security, people will mash it [the promenade] up.”

He has observed individuals consuming food and not bothering to put the empty containers in the dustbins provided.  Forde, who frequents the promenade daily, said destitute persons should be removed by the authorities. “Some of them are in a state…it’s frightening.” As a senior citizen, he said the promenade was one of the best places because it was “breezy”. He was disappointed fellow users “disrespected” the space: “It have so much dotish [stupid, silly] things happening on the promenade today,” he commented.

Tricia McIntosh said whenever she felt stressed at home she came to the promenade to “breeze out and see people”. She agreed with plans to have the place looking good again.

On and around the promenade, vendors earn a living selling soft drinks and juices, doubles, and pies. On afternoons there is also soup and barbeque.

Anthony Kadoo, of Port of Spain wanted to speak to Mayor Martinez about his idea of having a paved section which vendors will pay to occupy. No littering signs will be erected and persons in breach “locked up”. He complained about the trees and a building being used as a urinal by passersby.

Troy Clarke, a drinks vendor “Sunday to Sunday” said persons selling refreshments should be accommodated because “everybody comes on the promenade”.  He said in other countries with gardens and other places for the public to relax, there was always a place selling food and drink. He said the mayor can do it in “a technical way” not to obstruct pedestrians. Clarke pointed out that vendors helped locals and tourists visiting Port of Spain who need directions.  He said they have a role to play in the city.

Alfred Joseph, a Port of Spain resident offers a barbering service. He said, “When you out here, what you doing once it good you will get recommendations from others.”  Joseph, anticipates a question, and assured that he sterilises the tools of his trade. He hoped, “when they put things in place a little security will be good; who want to carry out their business they know it have people focused. And if government say ‘we set up electricity this and that’ and they feel to have a little tax, I willing…” Joseph said it was not easy working for $50 to $60 a haircut for men when in other islands he earned more.

The promenade is open to all, so in the throng of individuals with their different backgrounds, interests and intents, there a sordid side. “What I does see, I does play I ain’t seeing,” said Joseph.  He qualified this statement adding, “Not everybody out here bad; the majority have good intentions but sometimes, by following I would not say ‘bad company’, I would say ‘predators’, they get misled.”