PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Less than a week after he was doused with flood water by a group of irate Beetham Gardens residents, local government councillor Akil Audain returned to the community to hand out food hampers yesterday.
However, Audain did not venture back to the exact location where he and Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds were attacked, instead opting to utilise the Beetham Gardens Community Centre, which also houses the community’s Police Youth Club.
Questioned over the move, Audain claimed it was a strategic decision taken to ensure those most affected by last week’s flash flooding benefitted.
“If I were to go into the community we might not be able to get everyone because they might not be home. So we can always leave it here for them to collect,” Audain said.
He also said there was no “bad blood” between him and the residents over the attack.
“As I said I have an electoral district to maintain. I am here and I would be coming back because there are things we need to continue,” Audain said as he pointed to excavation works being conducted on the field at the centre. He claimed that he assisted in the development of the playing field through the East Port-of-Spain Development Company Limited.
Yesterday’s hamper distribution drive was relatively incident-free, as most of the 84 beneficiaries queued up to collect their packages under the watchful eye of police officers from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
Some community members not identified for assistance by Audain also turned up in the hope of coping “freebies”. However, they all left empty-handed as Audain only distributed to those on his pre-prepared list.
Some of the recipients also did not seem satisfied with the items contained in the sealed boxes, which included toilet paper, ketchup, rice and boxes of candy.
“What we suppose to do with this? I will need two boxes just to make up,” one man said.
“I really need some help with my stove and fridge because I can’t cook and have to come here to get cold water and something to eat,” a woman added.
Audain attempted to pacify the residents, explaining that the relief boxes were prepared using donations from the T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA), Fixin’ T&T and other NGOs.
The water-dousing incident occurred last Tuesday as Audain and Hinds were touring areas of the community affected by flooding. The duo was speaking to residents along 16th Street when they were confronted by a group of men who kicked water on them while their backs were turned. Hinds and Audain confronted the men over the incident but were forced to flee as the men, who were armed with buckets, chased after them. Hinds made a report of the incident to police the following day.
Police sources said the investigation is still ongoing. The suspects, some of whom were captured on videos that were subsequently circulated on social media, had not been arrested up to yesterday.
There were allegations that the men, who are not from where the incident occurred, were being egged on by a United National Congress (UNC) activist. However, these allegations have not been proven and the attack has been condemned by several politicians, including opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. (T&T Guardian)
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