Local government bodies to discuss regional travel – TT Newsday

Six Caribbean mayors have presented a proposal to the Inter-American Development Bank for the development of a Caribbean cities network to enhance travel in the region. This will be discussed at the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities conference being held in TT this Thursday-Saturday.
Regional local government heads from Guyana, Montserrat, Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, Dominica, St Lucia and TT gathered at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre, PoS, on Friday for the opening ceremony on Friday. The conference will feature presentations on various aspects of local governance as well as visits to the regional corporations of Sangre Grande, Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, Penal/Debe and Point Fortin Borough.
PoS Mayor Joel Martinez said during the Buenos Aires Forum of World Mayors in 2022, Caribbean mayors from TT, Belize, Jamaica, Guyana, and the Dominican Republic Aires signed an agreement to develop a Caribbean Cities network.
“What has been impacting the Caribbean in a major way is air travel. We’re supposed to be able to travel to each other’s islands frequently in a normal way. The EU came together, in North and South America you can drive from city to city, but we can’t do that here. Our air system is poor, and our sea system is poorer, so we can’t integrate as well as we should, so seeing each other is a family reunion.
“We put a two-point proposal comprising of city leaders coordinating a socio-economic integration, creating an ease of access for networking between Caribbean cities, establishing a connection between territories through a new, low-cost network of ferry line destinations, encompassing all cities of the community.”
He said the group approached the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) president and also plan to approach their respective governments.
“The IDB president who said he wants to talk to the Caribbean, he’s indicated let’s have the IDB Caribbean, let’s see how we can build the Caribbean infrastructure, which is helping our people have a better quality of life. It will also help us, infrastructure doesn’t only mean buildings, it also means telecommunications infrastructure, digital networks, security services, all the areas we need to build up, we need to build up our security systems to be able to deal with crime coming from outside the Caribbean.”
He said a ferry service between islands will help bring people closer together and build the economies of all the Caribbean islands.
“If local government works together to develop this, maybe we can talk to our governments in each territory to see how best we can do it because mobility is important for development, sustainability, and infrastructural development for our countries and our people and our cities.
“Local government moves people, we are the area of government that deals with the ground level on an everyday basis. Governments will look at feasibility and financing, if we push it, we can integrate with them and get the job done. It’s not about whether we or they can do it, it’s about development for people which is the job of governments.”
During the opening of the conference, local government leaders from each country shared the challenges they faced in their communities and the programmes they put in place to address some of the problems.
Many said they felt that local government was disrespected, with many citizens, including politicians, not understanding what local government was.
General secretary of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum Lucy Slack said local government bodies should look at improving their service through innovation through partnerships with civil society; increasing staffing and leadership capacity; digitisation; building relationships with civil society and the business community; communicating effectively with citizens; choosing good and diverse candidates when representatives are elected; leadership development; open and transparent budgeting and accounting; and formal and informal monitoring, among others.

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