Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Saturday, December 21, 2002  

In yesterday's Trinidad Guardian, Lennox Grant took on the problems of vagrancy and refuse in our nation's capital. These, of course have been serious issues for many years, and Grant's ironic tone (the article is titled "Love this city, vagrants and all") is saddening:

"Everywhere in the town, food, in its abundance - half-eaten by workers in the city, garbage-bagged and left on the pavements - keeps the Port-of-Spain system going. It keeps vagrants alive and nourished. And it keeps vagrants part of the picturesque landscape."

He goes on to describe the plan of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association, DOMA to install transparent rubbish bins that he says will make it easy for our capital's homeless to know if they're worth rummaging through.

I can understand the frustration behind this article. As it is, I hate downtown Port of Spain. It is a filthy place. Grant is many years my senior so he may remember a time when it was not so, but I have always known it like this. The vagrancy, the garbage, the poor drainage (which causes flooding in the rainy season), the sidewalk vendors (not to mention those annoying music trolleys)...the list goes on. Much has been written and said about all of this, about the lack of vision and planning in the development of Port of Spain, and still nothing truly effective has been done.

I do not pretend to know the answers; this is what, supposedly, we have planners and engineers and architects for. (The vagrancy problem is something else entirely.) But with the city, as with so much else in this country it's a case of la plus ├ža change. I recall the artist Carlisle Chang years ago saying that at independence there was a vision for Port of Spain, Athens in the Caribbean...where did it go?

posted by Jonathan | 7:40 AM 0 comments


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