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Real people live in Beetham

Published: 
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

There has always been a stigma attached to the shanty town that has developed into Beetham Gardens. Constantly at the forefront are the negatives associated with that working class community—crime, squalor, poverty, dysfunction.

This makes it easy to forget that real people live in Beetham Gardens, people who just want to make an honest living, raise their families and live in peace. However, their voices cannot be heard above the din and fury of the angry protesters whose rage regularly spills over into two critical thoroughfares into the city, the Beetham Highway and the Priority Bus Route.

The challenge now is to come up with solutions for that community to prevent incidents like last Thursday’s which have been taking place with disturbing regularity.

Beetham Gardens cannot simply be contained by physical barriers or forced relocation, as has been suggested by some in recent days. Instead, properly developed programmes and specific investments of time and resources must be part of the solution to all that ails that community. Let’s not forget that the area now the focus of so much scorn and shame bears the name of T&T’s last British-born governor, Sir Edward Beetham.

Although Beetham Gardens and environs have suffered from years of neglect, all is not lost. There is a great deal of potential there. One of the country’s most successful police youth clubs is based in the Beetham. It is also the birthplace of Servol, the programme founded by Fr Gerry Pantin which has played a critical role in the self-development of people over many decades.

Beetham can be saved from a social implosion with more sustained and targeted programmes by government, the private sector and NGOs.

Economic benefits from recycling

The imminent demise of the recycling programme operated by Plastikeep deepens the dearth of activities focused on improving this country’s natural environment.

Although Planning Minister Camille R0binson-Regis insists that efforts spearheaded by the Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL) and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) will soon bear fruit, not enough is being done to make T&T cleaner and greener.

That is unfortunate since there are huge economic benefits to be derived from recycling, particularly for a nation still struggling to climb out of a recent, precipitous economic decline.

For starters, well-run recycling programmes cost less to operate than the current systems of waste collection, landfilling and incineration. Properly designed and executed programmes can be cost-effective, particularly if there are incentives to recycle more and dispose of less. In addition, jobs can be created, not only in collecting recyclables, but also in processing materials and manufacturing new products from them.

Pres Boys setting a good example

Continuing on the subject of the environment, the students and staff of Presentation College in San Fernando have teamed up with the Carbon Zero Initiative of T&T for a programme that, among other things, is aimed at raising awareness and promoting reduction of greenhouse gases.

The initiative was launched on Monday under the patronage of President Anthony Carmona with the students planting trees around the school to help with the recycling of carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Well done, lads