President of the San Fernando Business Association, (SFBA) Daphne Bartlett, as well as former Member of Parliament for San Fernando West Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, both welcomed the statement by San Fernando West MP, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi that Government had sourced $500 million for an early start of some aspects of the project. However, both Bertlett and Seepersad- Bachan expressed the hope that the original design would be maintained and that it would not be a clone of the Port of Spain Waterfront Development, replete with glass buildings.
Seepersad-Bachan, who said she handed over some 3,500 files prepared by southerners on the project to Al-Rawi when he succeeded her as the MP for San Fernando West, said she hopes they maintain the quaint architecture that characterises the southern city.
“It will be an honour to see the project continue as it was stakeholders from San Fernando who came forward and put this idea together in the interest of San Fernando and its environs. Most important is that it was designed on the basis that it would maintain the old architecture of San Fernando and in keeping with the tourist attraction that is different from Port of Spain.” She said she was also happy San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello has taken the decision to relocate the train engine from its temporary home on the Harris Promenade to its original home on King’s Wharf.
“That is where it belongs, the old toll bell is still there, the museum can be built around it and we could recreate that effect of the Last Train to San Fernando calypso,” recalling that she was privileged to witness the historic last train which made its way to San Fernando.
Bartlett, who was appointed to chair the committee undertaking the project under the last administration, said while she is no longer consulted, “We are very happy the project is going to be started as we have big plans for the southern part of the island.
“This will create a lot of opportunities, especially for tourism, including sporting tourism.
I just hope they maintain the original plan and do not change it.” Pointing out that a final project was approved and there was agreement to accommodate firshermen on the waterfront, Bartlett questioned a decision to remove them. She also queried figures relating to the number of squatters to be relocated.
“I am not sure how they arrived at a figure of 144 squatters because the Land Settlement Agency (LSA) had settled some of them, and there were about 70 left to be settled.
I am not sure what part of the plan they will be executing, but I think they need to communicate with San Fernandians who hold the project near and dear to their hearts.
The end result must be worthwhile for everyone and bring value to the area.”