Wheelchair-bound Nazim Mohammed, 58, makes his way into the Jerningham Government school to cast his vote in the bye-election on Monday 25 January 2021. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

Voting in Monday’s bye-elections for the seat of Cunupia on the Chaguanas Borough Corporation started off smoothly with a steady flow of voters.  The cool morning air and dry weather attracted a large following of mostly middle-aged and elderly persons to cast their ballots. 

Guardian Media understands some 8,000 persons are eligible to vote in today’s bye-election, and many from the 12 polling divisions did so at three venues: the Jerningham Government Primary School, the Cunupia High School and the Cunupia Government Primary School.

PNM candidate for Cunupia Rasheed “Patos” Ali emerges from the voting station at the Jerningham Government School with his wife Sheriza Ali (left) and campaign manager Lennox Rattansingh (right), after voting in the bye-election on Monday 25 January 2021. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

The PNM candidate, Rasheed “Patos” Ali, arrived at the Jerningham Government School shortly before 8 am.  70-year-old Ali was accompanied by his wife Sherida and campaign manager  Lennox Rattansingh. 

Ali said he was confident of winning the seat for the PNM, pointing out that the area was not well serviced and was lacking infrastructure.

“I expect victory,” Ali told Guardian Media, adding that when he gets onto the Council, he plans to familiarize himself with its operations before tackling problems that include bad roads, bad drains, overgrown lots and poverty.  Ali said he plans to look at several ways to get the job done. His campaign manager, Lennx Rattansingh, said the campaign leading up to the elections was successful in terms of getting the message out and getting feedback from the voters before leaving the venue.

UNC Candidate Richard Sukdeo shows proof of voting after casting his ballot at the Cunupia High School, in the bye-election on Monday 25 January 2021. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

UNC Candidate, Richard Sukdeo, was accompanied by his wife Mala and other family members.  65-year-old Sukdeo, a used car dealer, said he, too, was confident of taking the seat for the UNC in one of the party’s strongholds. 

Sukdeo revealed he has a 100-day plan that includes the development and expansion of the Cunupia Market into a retail facility that can benefit single mothers.  Sukdeo said the residents want a safer community because the level of crime in T&T.  He also intends to focus on their basic needs.

“We are going to focus on that using social media groups,” he said.

However, Sukdeo was reluctant to confirm whether he would be appointed as the next Deputy Mayor.

He told Guardian Media: “Today’s process is about getting a councillor for the area. The area has been without a councillor since Miss Vandana Mohit ascended to the post of MP for Chaguanas East.  The idea of office is secondary, that is for a different time.  My focus is about getting in as a councillor.” 

Sukdeo said he plans to work with the Borough to continue its plans for the development of Chaguanas. He noted that because of limited funding, he hopes that plans would be prioritized  to benefit the most residents.

Manaday Ramsammy (left) accompanies her mother Sanaday Ramnarine, 80, and Shane Ramsammy, to vote in the bye-election on Monday 25 January 2021. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

Meanwhile, elderly voter Sanaday Ramnarine, 80, told Guardian Media she has been voting for decades. She said while she does not know the names of the candidates she was very well acquainted with the party’s symbols.

All persons leaving the venue said the process was smooth and many took less than three minutes to vote.

An EBC officer reported there were no hiccups, saying that one man could not find his name on the list of electors, but that problem was resolved with a phone call to the EBC.