Chaguanas

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Borough of Chaguanas
Chaguanas
Borough
Chaguanas-highlight.svg
Coordinates: 10°30′N 61°23′W / 10.500°N 61.383°W / 10.500; -61.383Coordinates: 10°30′N 61°23′W / 10.500°N 61.383°W / 10.500; -61.383
Country Trinidad and Tobago
Jurisdiction Borough of Chaguanas
Incorporated 1990 as Borough
Government
 • Mayor Gopaul Boodhan
 • Governing body Chaguanas Borough Corporation
Area
 • Borough 59.65 km2 (23.03 sq mi)
 • Urban 59 km2 (23 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 • Borough 83,516
 • Density 1,400/km2 (3,600/sq mi)
  Ranked 3rd
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 868
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg

The Borough of Chaguanas is the largest borough[1] (83,516 at the 2011 census) and fastest-growing[2][3] town in Trinidad and Tobago. Located in Central Trinidad about 18 km (11 mi) south of Port of Spain, it originally grew in size due to its proximity to the Woodford Lodge sugar refinery and the Central Trinidad town of Couva. It remained a minor town until the 1980s when it began to grow rapidly as it drew people for its bargain shopping and moderately-priced housing. However, its rapid growth has seen property values increase dramatically.[2]

Chaguanas became a borough in 1990; prior to that it was part of the County of Caroni. The current mayor is His Worship Gopaul Boodhan and the Borough Council has historically been dominated by the United National Congress.[4]

History[edit]

Chaguanas was named for the Chaguanes Amerindian tribe.[5] The area was settled by the time of the British conquest of Trinidad in 1797 (see History of Trinidad and Tobago). The town originated on what was then H.E. Robinson's sugar estate adjacent to the Woodford Lodge sugar refinery and the De Verteuil coconut and cocoa estate to the north and east. Construction of the Trinidad Government Railway helped the town grow.

The Princess Margaret Highway, built by the US military during World War II, joined the Southern Main Road at Chaguanas. Construction of the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway extended the highway south to San Fernando. The Carlsen Air Force Base was a former United States Army Air Forces World War II airbase constructed in Carlsen Field in 1942, consisting of two landing strips, "Edinburgh" and "Xeres". The airbase also included an emergency landing strip, "Tobago". Edinburgh Field became the principal combat base for USAAF bombers and Naval airships on Trinidad as well as Navy fighters with a complex of runways and taxiways that surpassed even Waller Field. This lasted until 3 November 1943 when, it was renamed Carlsen Field. It was also used by the Royal Air Force and was defended by US Army infantry and AA units. When the Navy began lighter-than-air operations in the Caribbean in the fall of 1943, the 80th Seabees were brought in to build a station at Carlsen Field. To supplement the eight Army-owned buildings taken over by the Navy, the 80th Battalion built a large, steel blimp hangar, a mooring circle, paved runways, a helium-purification plant, and other operational appurtenances. The facility was formally disestablished on 1950, and today the former air and naval airship base has been turned into a dairy and agricultural area south of Chaguanas and is all but unrecognizable. Much of the former airfield area is owned by National Flour Mills (NFM) and the only remnants of the base are the name of the area in south Chaguanas, along with streets named "Edinburgh" and "Xeres".

In the later 20th century Chaguanas grew rapidly as a bazaar town. The construction of Lange Park in the early 1980s attracted a middle-class community moving south from Port of Spain and the East-West Corridor and north from San Fernando. Its central location made it attractive to southerners working in north Trinidad and northerners looking for more affordable homes. Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of Afro-Trinidadian persons joining the mostly Indo-Trinidadian community of Chaguanas, primarily through the construction of National Housing Authority (now the Housing Development Corporation) residential housing, such as Edinburgh 500. Orchard Gardens was constructed as an upper middle class community, and Lange Park (which originally and continues to have a number of civil servants) gradually gentrified.

Also, despite Couva historical legacy within the Caroni County, as Chaguanas has evolved and expanded significantly to become the de facto administrative and commercial capital of Central Trinidad, Couva's character has now changed to become magnet for industrialization, sports, health, and residential projects.

In October 1990 Chaguanas was elevated to the status of borough under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act No. 21 of 1990.[3]

Geography[edit]

Chaguanas is low-lying and is just upstream from the Caroni Swamp. The Caparo River runs through the town. The Chaguanas Main Road runs East to West from Felicity to Longdenville. The Southern Main Road (SMR) from Busy Corner (part of which includes the Chaguanas Main Road from Busy Corner to Montrose Junction) runs south to San Fernando. The North-South Highways begins and ends at the flyover in Chaguanas, just east of the SMR West of the SMR, Perseverence Road continues south from Railway Road onto Orange Field Road.

Climate[edit]

Chaguanas has a lowland seasonal tropical climate with a wet season lasting from June to November and a dry season lasting from January to May.

Urban structure[edit]

Chaguanas is bounded to the north by Munroe Road, to the east by the Gandia River, to the south by the Honda River and to the west by the Gulf of Paria.

The town is bisected by the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway and Uriah Butler Highway.

Chaguanas consists of the following main population centres:

  • Downtown Chaguanas - the original core town of Chaguanas and modern central business district; lies west of the Solomon Hochoy Highway.
  • Montrose - primarily commercial district east of the Solomon Hochoy Highway.
  • Edinburgh 500 and other related developments - south of Montrose.
  • Edinburgh Village - south of downtown Chaguanas Area. There are two villages between downtown Chaguanas and Bagna Trace/Carlsen Field triangle roundabout on the Southern Main Rd. - Edinburgh Village and Chase Village. Boundary is defined by the Caparo River south-to-river just south of Chandernagore Rd, Chase Village continues further south to triangle and onwards. Edinburgh Village contains housing areas Edinburgh Gardens Phases 1, 2, and 3.
  • Lange Park - north of Montrose and south of Endeavour, east of Orchard Gardens and the Uriah Butler Highway.
  • Orchard Gardens - immediately north of the downtown and west of the Uriah Butler Highway.
  • Charlieville - lies on both sides of the Uriah Butler Highway, northeast of Felicity.
  • Felicity - lies further north and west of the downtown, east and south of the Caroni Swamp.
  • Endeavour - northeast of Orchard Gardens, north of Lange Park.
  • Enterprise - east of Endeavour and north of Longdenville
  • Longdenville - east of Montrose.
  • Cunupia - population centre to the northeast Chaguanas, north of Enterprise.
  • Carlsen Field - a former U.S. airbase to the south of Chaguanas, this area of the town is still predominantly agricultural.

Governance[edit]

The Chaguanas Borough Council consists of 8 electoral district councillors and four aldermen selected through a proportional representation methodology. The Major and Deputy Major are then selected henceforth. The electoral districts are as follows: Felicity/Endeavour; Enterprise South; Edinburgh/Longdenville; Enterprise North; Charlieville; Montrose; Monroe Road/Caroni Savannah Road; and Cunupia. In 2013, the Chaguanas Borough Corporation moved into its new administrative building situated in Success Street, Woodforde Lodge.

Chaguanas comprises (wholly or in part) of the following parliamentary electoral districts: Chaguanas West; Chaguanas East, Couva North, Caroni Central, and Caroni East.

Economy[edit]

Chaguanas developed as a market town and still attracts bargain shoppers. Much of Chaguanas' development has centred around the Chaguanas Main Road where numerous shopping plazas have been constructed. The Chaguanas Main Road (east of the Chaguanas flyover) continued to develop, primarily through small and medium size businesses, to fulfill the expanding population centres.

Retail development expanded with the construction of three malls in the downtown in the 1980s (Centre City, Mid Centre and Ramsaran Plaza, later to become Centre Pointe Mall). Centre City Mall has been significantly renovated and there are future plans to expand further to become the largest mall in the Caribbean. It will feature two major buildings, one near to the Uriah Butler Highway and another close to the centre of Chaguanas, joined by an enclosed walkover above the Mulchan Seuchan Link Road.

The above photo shows shoppers, pedestrians and vendors on the Chaguanas mainroad.

More recently, construction of Price Plaza in Endeavour expanded upscale retail opportunities. Price Plaza includes a warehouse-style store PriceSmart, TGI Friday's and Ruby Tuesday restaurants, a food court, SuperPharm, as well as many other retail outlets. MovieTowne is situated nearby the Price Plaza and continuing further expansion. Adjoining to the Movietowne complex are other restaurants and bars, e.g. Woodforde Cafe, Wild Olive Restaurant, and Hollywood Grill.

A new shopping complex is planned to be built in 2013-15 in the Brentwood planned housing and commercial development.

ABEL or Alstons Building Enterprises Limited is a member of the ANSA McAl Group of Companies and is situated in Longdenville. It is the largest manufacturer of clay building blocks and Metpro steel and aluminium windows and doors and Astralite and Spectra uPVC windows and doors in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Chaguanas has also developed into a financial centre. The Unit Trust Corporation (UTC), First Citizens Bank (FCB), Sagicor, Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, Scotiabank, RBTT, and the Bank of Baroda all have major corporate offices in Chaguanas.

The dissolution of the state-owned sugar company, Caroni (1975) Limited, had a profound effect on Chaguanas, since this company was a major employer.

Demographics[edit]

Chaguanas has grown rapidly from a small village to the largest town in Trinidad and Tobago. Chaguanas has historically been considered an Indo-Trinidadian town through its original villages (such as Edinburgh village, Felicity, Charlieville, Chandernagore, Chase Village, St. Thomas, Montrose, Endeavour, and Cunupia), but as it has grown it has become more multi-racial. Enterprise and Longdenville are a historically Afro-Trinidadian villages which has been absorbed into the growing town of Chaguanas. Also, Edinburgh 500 and other associated residential governmental housing developments are also largely Afro-Trinidadian.

Culture and entertainment[edit]

Scenery/attractions[edit]

The Lion House, birthplace of Nobel Prize–winning author V.S. Naipaul is located in Chaguanas. This is generally assumed to be the model for Hanuman House in Naipaul's A House for Mr Biswas, with Chaguanas as the model for Aruacas.

The Caroni Swamp, the largest mangrove wetland in Trinidad and Tobago, is located just north and west of the town. The swamp is a popular tourist attraction and roosting ground for the Scarlet Ibis, national bird of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Divali Nagar site, located in northern Chaguanas, is a major attraction in the period just before Diwali. The village of Felicity, on the western end of Chaguanas, is famous for its elaborate Diwali celebrations.

Media[edit]

The Trinidad Publishing Company (TTSE: TPCL), the country’s oldest and most established publisher of the Trinidad Guardian newspaper, constructed its printing facility for the Newspaper division of Trinidad Publishing Company Limited, of the ANSA McAL Group’s Media Sector, in the vicinity of Chaguanas flyover.

HCU Communications Limited (now defunct) is based in Chaguanas. It operates a radio station (Bollywood Masala 101.1 FM), and launched a television station (WIN TV) in early 2007. As HCU Publications, it also publishes three weekly newspapers, The Probe, Uhuru and Bollywood Today.

Entertainment[edit]

The town includes numerous malls (such as Price Plaza, Movietowne, Mid centre Mall) and associated restaurants and bars. Also, a number of areas in Chaguanas are now quickly developing into entertainment areas, such as Rodney Road, Endeavour with The Rise, Law 5, Double R, and others.

Infrastructure[edit]

Health[edit]

The Chaguanas District Hospital is located in Montrose Chaguanas (along the Montrose Main Road). Inclusive of the district health facility, a private hospital (Medical Associates) situated in the vicinity of the Chaguanas flyover was opened in 2012. Other small privately run health facilities are located throughout Chaguanas and its environs.

The Caroni County Medical Officers of Health (CMOH), of which Chaguanas falls under, is situated on the Southern Main Road in Couva.

Education[edit]

The Borough is host to many prominent primary and secondary schools. Notable primary schools include Montrose Vedic in Downtown Chaguanas, and Montrose Government in Lange Park.

The Presentation College, Chaguanas is a Roman Catholic secondary school in Chaguanas and is the brother school of Presentation College, San Fernando. It is regarded as one of the best performing high schools in Trinidad and Tobago throughout its history, and in particular within its recent history being awarded the country's President's medal for best performing student multiple times.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Esmond D Ramesar Open Campus will be constructed along the Narsaloo Ramaya Road in Chaguanas.

Transport[edit]

Chaguanas is an important transportation hub. Buses, taxis and maxi-taxis connect Chaguanas with Port of Spain, San Fernando, Curepe and Couva, and smaller settlements around central Trinidad.

Given the town's original as a village and its generally unplanned rapid growth into the country's largest town (by population), Chaguanas is continuously plagued by traffic problems despite numerous attempts of alternative traffic management schemes. This traffic congestion is now considered as a threat to future growth of the Borough.

Sports[edit]

The main sporting venue in Chaguanas is the Central Regional Indoor Sport Arena Hall at Saith Park. Smaller recreation grounds (e.g. Woodforde Lodge, Avinash Samaroo ground) and cricket pitches (Pierre Road) are scattered throughout the borough, but no larger sporting venues are located within the town. The town leverages the infrastructure from other towns such as Couva's Ato Boldon stadium or Sevilla golf course.

Utilities[edit]

Electric generation is handled by Powergen, while electrical distribution is handled by the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC). Chaguanas does not contain its own power generation facilities.

Water and sewerage are under the purview of the Water and Sewerage Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (WASA).

The town is served by all major telecommunication (including cable, satellite) companies, e.g. TSTT, Columbus Communications, DirectTV, and Greendot.

Sister cities[edit]

Chaguanas is a sister city with some of the following cities:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Table from 2000 Census on Central Statistical Office of Trinidad and Tobago website [1]
  2. ^ a b Chaguanas – Trinidad’s fastest growing town - Afra Raymond, July 29, 2004.
  3. ^ a b The Borough of Chaguanas - the Fastest Growing Commercial Centre - Trinidad Guardian, October 1, 1998
  4. ^ http://guardian.co.tt/news/2013-11-09/unc-rules-chaguanas
  5. ^ Nobel Lecture - V.S. Naipaul, 2001
  6. ^ Sam Eifling (March 11, 2004). "A Worldly Pitch". New Times. p. 3. Retrieved 2007-07-16. 

External links[edit]