Motorists and students attending nearby schools, may have been stunned on Thursday morning as reality sunk in that a naked man, obviously homeless, and possibly mentally challenged, had been parading aimlessly, at the top of Abercromby Street in Port-of-Spain.
The issue of an increased feeling of vulnerability at the hands of the homeless, and of course those who commit crimes in the capital city, have left many choosing other options when it comes to shopping and recreation- many arguing the obvious- that Port-of-Spain is unclean, unsafe and a potential life risk.
In 2013, while serving as Mayor of Port-of-Spain, Louis Lee Sing told the media that the Port of Spain City Corporation had been slapped with 12 lawsuits by persons who had been attacked by street dwellers. The Mayor highlighted then, that one of the lawsuits was filed by a man who claimed he had been wrestled to the ground by a homeless man, bitten on the back and foot, and left with a gaping wound on his back.
Back then, Mr. Lee Sing said he had been attacked by human rights activists when he attempted to take action to clean up Port-of-Spain. “We had a command post here going in to pick up street dwellers and taking them before the court and everybody felt the mayor was a madman, some said he was inhuman. We didn’t have the institutional power to bring the street-dwelling problem to an end in this society but we knew we could not sit down and do nothing,” Lee Sing said in a Guardian Newspaper article.
Fast forward to 2019 and Port-of- Spain Mayor, Joel Martinez issues a plan to launch a ‘nudge along’ policy in dealing with street dwellers in the city. Is that enough though? The mayor told the Newsday Newspaper in early November that his office attempted to acquire the necessary land to build a shelter for the homeless, however, this effort proved futile. He said they would now be encouraging the homeless to remain at Riverside Plaza, clearing the streets of those who sleep along the city’s pavements, particularly at night.
What are your thoughts on this new measure?
This Power Picketer thinks it’s just another bandaid being placed on a wound that’s already festered with maggots. The Capital City has progressively become a haven for the destitute and criminally inclined, so much so that many stick to the malls on the outskirts of the city, and even travel to the Southland to shop and engage in entertainment activities.
Whether those in authority realize it or not, the city, once a hub of activity, is quickly deteriorating, making me even wonder why cruise ships would even bother stopping at our harbour, and tourists walk through the city streets with its pungent odors and the possibility of being struck in the head with a piece of iron, or worse yet shot by a criminal in broad daylight!