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On Wednesday, the first part of this two part series was published, Here’s Part II.
On Friday 17th March, The First Citizens Sports Foundations, announced five winners in various categories.
Sportsman of the Year—Keshorn Walcott;
Sportswoman of the Year—Michelle Lee-Ahye,
Jeffrey Stollmeyer award (Large category) —Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation;
(Small category)—Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association (Small category);
Lystra Lewis Trophy, which was given to the Women’s National Cricket team.
On the surface, in my opinion, there can be little doubt on two of those awards, and many will say, that Walcott and Lee Ahye were overwhelming favourites to win in the overall men’s and women’s categories respectively.
The only sad note, would have been the non-appearance of both winners on the night, and whilst it was apparent that Lee-Ahye’s absence was well-known as she is overseas in training and her proud mother receive the award on her behalf, there was both no Keshorn Walcott, or no family member there to collect his award. The fact, that reports are widespread that Walcott was in the country on the night, and was seen by some in the Capital city, is not good, if indeed it’s true.
What could make someone not want to be present to be honoured with the President of the Republic, his peers and family and friends with the most prestigious sport award from his/her country. A country from whom he received acknowledgement and various rewards in the past. This has to be addressed going forward, and does not reflect highly on Walcott, unless there is a reason.
As for the other three awards, starting with the Lystra Lewis Award, I would suggest, that this award should only be given to a team that has inspired the country, and brought something different to the table, and not just given out to some group or organization, because it must be awarded. In a year such as 2016, I would have struggled to give anyone the award, as to be honest, not many persons seem to be aware why the Women’s National Cricket team was honoured with the award.
The other award, the Jeffrey Stollmeyer Award in the two categories, large and small, in my mind this is flawed by the process that has been adopted, whereby, each Sporting organisation, has to fill out a form and submit their information, and only those which do this will succeed. This category must be examined to ensure that the awards is given because of results and nothing else.
Overall, yet again, it was certainly the stand-out event in sports production by the JCD and Associates team, as the time flew past quickly. However, going forward, might I suggest, that just as the T&T Olympic Committee fix the date of their awards to December 29th in any year, that a similar procedure is adopted by the First Citizens Sports Foundation, so as to set a fixed date and time. This would ensure that no one can say again or in the future, that they did not know the date in advance, and that there schedule was booked up for one reason or another. Fixing the date would also allow First Citizens to set the right example in terms of capturing the mood and need for discipline in this country.
Far too often we have to sway and move with people’s time.
Healthy competition brought out outstanding performances from the young athletes of Mayaro who took part in the 2017 bpTT Mayaro Primary Schools Zonal Athletic Games held at the Mayaro Secondary School Grounds on March 17th.
Javon Jones, a 12-year-old student of Mafeking Government Primary School, captured the energy of the participants, “I competed in shot put, javelin, discus and 100 meter sprint and I was able to win in shot put and discus. I really want to represent Mayaro to the best of my ability and maybe one day I could even represent Trinidad and Tobago and become an athlete ambassador for bpTT. No matter what happens, I had a great time today and I know that my parents will be proud of me.”
Sponsored by energy company BP Trinidad and Tobago for the past 18 years, the games present a golden opportunity for young athletes from across the community to compete with the hope of representing Mayaro at the district and national primary school levels. The games are held annually under the auspices of the Ministry of Education.
Ronda Francis, Corporate Responsibility Manager, bpTT, commented on the company’s long-standing support of the games said, “We have always supported sporting development in the Mayaro region as demonstrated by our football, cricket, netball and basketball competitions. BPTT is committed to developing every aspect of human capacity and the zonal sports is high priority because it is a nurturing ground for the enormous potential that exists in these young people. As demonstrated by their passion and performances, these athletes are our future stars, who will bring pride and glory to our nation.”
The games included field and track events and all of the local primary schools came out to compete: Guayaguayare RC Primary School, Mafeking Government Primary School, Mayaro Government Primary School, Ortoire RC Primary School and St Thomas (Mayaro) RC Primary School.
Andy Paul, Mayaro Zonal Coordinator, explained that sports are a critical part of the development of students. “These zonal games are an extension of the curriculum, and are essential to the nurturing of all-round, healthy and constructive citizens. It is a platform for the kids to discover and develop their talents at an early stage and each one of these kids performs with the hope of becoming the next Cleopatra Borel. They have principals, teachers, parents and sponsors bpTT supporting their achievement of those dreams,” Paul noted.
Members of the T&T Senior Men’s Team led by captain Kenwyne Jones issued a peace call with a collaboration of messages coming out of the Team’s residential camp at the Marriot Hotel in Port of Spain on Saturday following the 1-0 victory over Panama in Friday’s 2018 World Cup Qualifier.
The idea came about on the eve of the encounter following numerous reports of criminal activities, murders and violence against women and citizens generally which are circulating in the local press over the past few weeks.
But the focus was to achieve the victory against the Panama and with that accomplished, the players were then ready to send their national messages.
“Right now the crime situation is a not a pleasing one,” said Jan Michael Wiliams in a video that features messages from Jones, Kevin Molino, Khaleem Hyland, Curtis Gonzales, Mekeil Williams and Daneil Cyrus.
The following messages were voiced by the players.
“We stand against Crime! Stop the Violence Now, Respect our Women. Protect our women, love them and protect them!
“Let’s come together and Protect T&T. Let us all make this place safer”
“I have a mother, I have a Wife and also daughter. You also have a wife, a mother and a sister. Let’s come together to stand against violence against our women.”
“Do you part to make T&T better.”
“Let us come together to make T&T a better and safer place,” were the final words spoken by Williams in the one minute and twenty three second video clip which ended with a shot of the crowd applauding T&T’s victory at the final whistle and Hyland kneeling in prayer on the field following the referee’s final whistle on Friday night.
After two matches in this competition, and three months of ultimate failure to cope with the needed quality of football to be played in the hexagonal, T&T has had the opportunity to see some level of improvement and a victory in game number three against Panama.
The expression of joy is obvious and was expected so long as the lads put their heads down and respond positively to their new Coach.
Even the statistics which emanated from the match, divulged that the percentage of ball possession of both teams saw the home country having two per cent more in the first half while Panama was three per cent more in the second half.
That statistic does not always make logical sense.
The Soca Warriors appeared to be directed to start the game from Keeper Jan Williams by using the wing defenders, just to ensure that they can begin a methodical possession and work their way towards the opportunity of using either Joevin Jones or Cordell Cato.
The ploy was impressive in the early stages and the tempo of the early minutes saw the effectiveness of the two speedsters.
It also caused Panama to follow suit with starting their possession game with their defense as well.
The principle was overdone and the possession game meant little for either one.
Thanks to Kareem Hyland and Carlos Edwards for opening up passing options which included the use of Joevin on the left.
It was impressive and left the crowd with a feeling of methodical attacking from the flanks.
A few good chances came by because of this, and some penetrative opportunities through either side where Cato was also very assertive in his duties to discomfort the left wing back Quintero.
Two chances came by, the first with an attempted wall pass between Cato and Kevin Molino.
The Minnesota striker, who was enjoying the full use of the field with his mobility, failed to finish a half chance from within the penalty area.
Edwards was working well with a triangle that comprised Joevin and Kenwyne Jones.
The chemistry was attractive and effective.
The Panama defense may have been in panic mode for a while, seeing that their wing defenders Edgar Barcemas on the right and Quintero of the left were uncertain as to stop T&T flankers.
Then it came to fruition, when Hyland broke the slow methodical forward approach by our defense line and rushed forward, passing Olavve and Godoy before releasing an exquisite through pass into the pass of a diagonal run from Joevin and almost like clockwork, Molino started to plan for the third man running space just in time to stride into the path of Joevin’s pass.
The rest of his act was typical of his main area of strength.
He rushed towards a vacancy which was left by Armando Cooper, deceptively body shifted the main defender Torres and got enough space to hit his right footer clinically into the net. WOW.
The joys of the crowd brought an atmosphere which triggered off the teams as a whole, where skipper Kenywne was out jumping the Panamanian defenders and flicking diagonally backward to either Cato or Joevin.
It was attractive and gave a glimpse to the fans that there was more success for the Warriors.
A free kick just outside of the penalty area on a foul again Jones, brought an opportunity which may have excited both Hyland and the left footed J Jones.
Against the north easterly wind, my choice would have been hyland. But, who can deny Joevin a chance of sending his team further forward.
He did not, but sent the ball skyrocketing way overbar.
I have a concern that we used ten defenders in the penalty area defending our goal.
That’s a misjudgment, if only because, in the event of gaining possession by our players, there would have been no release players, causing the Panamanians to collect the ball and continue to place pressure in our half of the field.
Secondly, defending players, even seven of them with strong aerial capability should be trusted to win the battle of the crossed balls against a Panama which consist of two five footers and a reluctant keeper to leave the line.
As it is on two situations saw five Warriors awaiting crossed balls against one pint size Henriguez, in the first instant, and substitute Tejada in the other.
Unbelievably, on both occasion saw the opposition got their heads before all else.
However, As we say, “God is a Trini” and he saved the day.
The team was much more organised that we had seen in the recent past and gave the impression that better performances could be on the horizon.
The West Indies scored less runs than the number of murders committed in T&T for the year so far, in a T20 match, such was their deplorable performance with the bat against Pakistan in the opening match of the Brighto Cup T20 clash at Kensington Oval, Barbados yesterday.
Skipper Carlos Brathwaite led the way with an unbeaten 34, as all the West Indies could come up with was 111 for eight of their allotted 20 overs, after being put in to bat by visitors. Pakistan then rustled up its win at 115 for four with 17 balls to spare.
Losing their last T20 series against Pakistan 0-3 in the UAE, the West Indies continued on the losing side much to the disappointment of the local fans who showed up at the region’s mecca to support them.
The bowlers were left to defend just 111 runs and with the talent in the Pakistani line-up this was always going to be difficult task and it reflected in the end.
Despite the world class spin duo of Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine in its ranks, the West Indies just could not pull off the miracle that was required.
Test skipper Jason Holder ripped out two batsmen but this was woefully short of what was required. With three wickets down for 49 runs Pakistan looked a bit wobbly, but that was just a look.
Given their uncertain mindset at times, the West Indies would have thought that they could get a sighter but the calm assurance of Shoaib Malik provided the fans back in Pakistan with a late night gift for their loyalty.
The right hander who plies his CPL trade here in Barbados, scored an unbeaten 38 of 29 balls with three sixes and a four to bring home the win. Apart from him Babar Azam made 29 from 30 balls with three fours and Kamral Akmal 22 of 17.
Earlier, the direct hit that threw down Evin Lewis’ stumps was a signal that the day was not going to belong to the home team. Lewis, Chadwick Walton and Holder were the only batsmen apart from Brathwaite to get into double figures. The West Indies problems centred around poor shot selection, two poor umpiring decisions and a debutant leg-spinner that seemed to be bowling hand grenades.
After the loss of Lewis, Shadab Khan a man good enough to be picked up by the Trinbago Knight Riders for the CPL 2017, took over. He sent back Lendl Simmons, Walton and Narine to finish with 3/7 of four overs.
His dismissal of Walton was questionable though, as the ball seemed headed past leg stump but not in the opinion of umpire Joel Wilson.
Imad Wasim sent back Marlon Samuels but television replays suggested the ball was far away from the leg-stump.
This time it was Barbadian umpire Gregory Brathwaite that erred. Brathwaite finished with 34 unbeaten of 27 balls with two sixes and two fours. The bandwagon now heads to Trinidad for the next three matches, the first of which will be played off on Thursday.
WI vs Pakistan
West Indies Innings
E Lewis run out 10
C Walton lbw Khan 18
M Samuels lbw Wasim 7
L Simmons b Khan 1
K Pollard c Wasim b Riaz 14
S Narine c Wasim b Khan 1
R Powell lbw Ali 1
C Brathwaite not out 34
J Holder c Hafeez b Tanvir 14
Extras: 3lb, 3w, 1nb 7
Total for 8 wkts (20ovs) 111
Fall of wkts: 13, 35, 37, 38, 42, 49, 74, 111.
Bowling: I Wasim 3-0-12-1, M Hafeez 1-0-8-0, S Tanvir 4-0-21-1, H Ali 4-0-25-1, S Khan 4-0-7-3, W Riaz 4-0-35-1.
K Akmal c Lewis b Badree 22
A Shehzad c Walton b Holder 13
B Azam c Powell b Holder 29
M Hafeez c & b Brathwaite 5
S Malik not out 38
S Ahmed not out 4
Extras: 3w, 1nb 4
Total for 4 wkts (17.1) 115
Fall of wkts: 25, 40, 49, 85.
Bowling: S Badree 4-0-24-1, J Holder 3.1-0-27-2, S Narine 4-0-22-0, C Brathwaite 3-0-18-1, K Williams 2-0-14-0, K Pollard 1-0-10-0. Result: Pakistan won by 6 wkts.
Man of the match: Shadab Khan.
Top T&T swimmer Dylan Carter swam the third leg as the University of Southern California (USC) closed out the 2017 NCAA Division One Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship with a bronze medal in the men’s 400 yards freestyle relay on Saturday night.
Competing in the eight-team final at the event co-hosted by Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis and Indiana Sports Corporation, inside the IU Natatorium the USC quartet of Santo Condorelli, Ralf Tribuntsov, Carter and Reed Malone combined for a time of two minutes, 47.33 seconds behind overall champions for a third straight year, Texas, which won in a new NCAA record mark of 2:45.39, and Florida (2:46.21).
Also in the final were California (2:48.49), Stanford (2:48.80), Arizona State University ((2:49.00), North Carolina State (2:49.09) and Indiana (2:49.53).
In the heats, USC was also third, going under the pool record of 2:48.33 with a time of 2:48.17, behind Texas (2:47.78) and Florida (2:47.90).
On Friday night, he got his first individual medal, when he was joint second in the 200 yard freestyle gold medal splash, in one minute, 31.16 seconds, the same as Indiana’s Blake Pieroni and both , behind reigning NCCA and US Open record holder, Townley Haas whose’s 1:30.65 clocking was a new pool record.
The 21-year-old Carter missed out on another medal after he placed fourth in the men’s100 yard freestyle in 41.76s in the event won by Florida’s Caeleb Dressel, (40 seconds), a new NCCA record, bettering his own record from 2016, 40.46.
Missouri’s Michael Chadwick took silver in 40.95 and Olympic champion, Ryan Held of North Carolina State, bronze in 41.21.
A six-time All-American, Carter also posted the fourth fastest time of 41.73 seconds, a new personal best to trail Dressel (41.00), Held 41.34) and Chadwick (41.58) in the morning heats.
On Thursday, the T&T swimmer was seventh in the men’s 50 yard freestyle final in 19.08 seconds, only ahead of Michigan’s Paul Powers (19.17). The winner of the event was Dressell in 18.23 seconds ahead Held (18.60) and Texas’ Joseph Schooling (18.79).
This after Carter who competed at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was also seventh in a personal best of 19.04 followed by Powers (19.06).
Also on Thursday night, Carter, second in the 50m butterfly and third in the 50m freestyle at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games helped USC to a fourth placed in the men’s 400 medley relay finals in three minutes, 02.20 seconds.
All rounder Tion Webster took Queen’s Park to a 10-wicket victory over Clarke Road United in its fourth round clash at St Mary’s cricket ground yesterday.
Clarke Road made 152 all out batting first and QPCC replied with 318. Young West Indies player Kirstan Kallicharan made 77 to finish as top scorer, while Webster made a 63. Batting a second time, Clarke Road got a century from the veteran Gregory Mahabir to record 250 all out. The pick of the bowlers for Queen’s Park was Webster who grabbed 5/46.
Set a victory target of 85 QPCC sped to victory at 88 without loss with Webster scoring an unbeaten 53 of 27 balls with five fours and five sixes. Skipper Justin Guillen cracked an unbeaten 30.
Also recording a victory was PowerGen, which smashed Tableland by a massive 309 runs in St. Julien. PowerGen batting first made 209 and then hustled out Tableland for 149. Ewart Akil Nicholson then scored a brilliant 115 and Akiel Cooper 100 not out to lead PowerGen to 399 for six declared in their second innings. Chasing 460 runs for victory, Tableland then crashed to 155 all out.
It was the most gut-wrenching, heartbreaking week on Trinidad’s killing fields. A week to despair, to give up. I had wanted to write about Kevin Baldeosingh making fun of a state institution trying to take sexual harassment seriously.
I had wanted to write about the opinion column, its enormous role and importance, and where ours locally stack up against the general state of our journalism.
I’d wanted to write, too, about Derek Walcott and why his salty reading of The Mongoose, that jawdropping poem about Naipaul, is how I will much more remember him than “the Hallmark one”—as some have dubbed Love After Love—the work appearing everywhere that risks becoming his popular signature.
Instead, I’m going to write—not quite on violence and murder—but about it.
Walcott’s mongoose “cursed its first breath for being Trinidadian.” And, like it, so many of us find ourselves committed to a performance of the pathology of this place we call home. We are in a competition for who can be most hopeless or cynical or sneering.
This week, a manager at St Christopher’s gas station on Wrightson Road surprised me, in responding to my Facebook post about his cashier’s “hoggishness” with action: not just an apology; but gratitude for the complaint; follow-up that the employee was counselled; and a commitment to my customer loyalty. He’d won new customers in minutes. One person in my feed dismissed his post as corporate speak. Another friend was wittier: “Colin, what country are you in?”
My bright spot of customer service could not salve how especially unliveable and helpless, the country felt last week. A place where our children’s dreams would reflect the death of ours, to paraphrase another towering poet of Caribbean origin, Audre Lorde. But the idea that where we live is unliveable is itself unliveable.
Colonialism’s strategy—to teach us the psychic feat of living with impossible contradictions, to value rules over justice—is unsustainable. Simply because the rules no longer work. And the fruit of that immunity to brutality we swallowed daily long past Independence is the killing and killing and killing that was irredeemably everywhere last week.
The Prime Minister, too, with more a steelness than his common irascibility, told the nation that he too wants to kill. Not because he believes killing will lead to less killing. But because it is the only currency of justice that we know.
Lesbian/gay/bi/trans/intersex people are just as inextricably bound up in this killing as we are in the nation’s destiny and the failing faith in it.
In a space of just one month this year, we heard reports of three gay men murdered, all Caribbean migrants; and rumours of more. Though no evidence has been put forth that the motivation was bias, LGBTI people are specially vulnerable to victimisation and violence, simply because our lives aren’t seen as terribly worthy.
“We kiss in the shadows”: the very act of finding each other makes us unsafe. Many of us have a history of being mocked or dismissed by police when we follow Minister Dillon’s injunction to report crimes and name our abusers. Much of the violence against us remains unmeasured, even by community groups, who can offer no incentives to outweigh reporting’s cost: being named as gay to family, neighbours, co-workers or church members. Rape victims have declined medical attention.
Sohan Badall (a well-known creative industry maven who also performs Indian dance in female roles) set an important example earlier this month, going to the police and media after a street attack. But our privacy, isolation and shame themselves, without the protection of frameworks like the Equal Opportunity Act, make it hard to investigate crime.
Last week included us, too, in its madness, with new allegations swirling online that risked whipping up fear and panic and victimhood. But we need exactly the opposite.
So LGBTI organisations used the crazy to launch #KeepSafe, a modest empowerment campaign, calling for community members to be more vigilant in protecting each other. Taking simple measures like texting destinations. Contributing ideas to collective solutions. Reporting. Seeking help.
Few of us feel we have any real power—or even the will—to fix the big political—or geopolitical—problems behind crime. But in moments like the week gone by it is critical to contemplate, as Lorde says elsewhere in her Litany for Survival—“this instant and this triumph/We were never meant to survive.”
For those LGBTI communities internationally whose histories of struggle are better known, like many other groups under siege, how people came together and took care of each other was a powerful tool of resilience. That and the ability to imagine a different world, as Lorde asks: “What are the words you do not yet have?” Sadly, though, current Caribbean LGBTI narratives have tended to a kind of global inferiority, an embrace of Naipaulianness.
“For us there is only the living/That is all that we have left” my own small poem urges.
Narratives of unliveability have no use for any of us who have to live here. In weeks like the past one, our power and hope lie in the little things we do to hold each other tighter and ensure each other’s vigilance.
If you’re an LGBTI survivor of crime, or the survivor of a victim, and you want to heal or help, contact [email protected] or 681-4150.
Three days after Piparo labourer Junior Paul Smith was gunned down by police, his younger brother was arrested in connection with a shootout with the same officers.
Paul’s father, Andrew, told the T&T Guardian that around 2 pm yesterday, officers arrived at their Tabaquite home and took his 34-year-old son, saying they had information that he was involved in the incident. However, he said the police are yet to tell them what happened to Junior, who was shot several times along the Guaracara Tabaquite Road on Thursday night.
“They arrested him saying that they had some information that he was involved in the shooting with police. Nobody has come to us and ask us anything about Junior. We don’t know what’s really going on but something has to be done. I can’t let that stay just so, I have to know what really went on,” the senior Smith said.
Smith’s sister, Vanessa, said they will be writing to the Police Complaints Authority for a proper investigation into his death.
On Friday, Smith’s brother Clevon had said he was driving towards Rio Claro along the Guaracara Tabaquite Road to drop off a friend, when on reaching an area known as the Teak, a vehicle sped up behind them and the occupants opened fire. He said he and his friend got out the car and hid in the bushes. While there, Clevon said he contacted Junior to pick him up. When it was almost midnight, he said he heard several gunshots which was followed by the voice of a man screaming out “Don’t shoot me.” He then heard a final gunshot before there was silence. He said he and his friends walked through the bushes until a neighbour picked them up. Andrew said when he went to the police station to report that Smith did not return home, officers there informed the family they had fatally shot his son. Officers from the Professional Standards Bureau visited the station on Friday and took statements from the officers.
Meanwhile, an investigation has begun into the killing of Kerwyn Meharris, the brother of WPC Roxanne Meharris.
Around 1 am Saturday, Meharris, 34, of Flanangin Town, Brasso, was playing a card game with friends at Mammoral Junction. Among the group was a Special Reserve Police officer. It was reported that Meharris won some money and was walking home when he got a phone call from someone who told him to return to the junction. On reaching there, he was shot in his chest. He was taken to the Chaguanas District Health Facility where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The SRP officer was questioned and his firearm seized and investigations are continuing.
There are reports of an illegal quarry operating in the Matura forest. An excavator is on site, destroying the trees and digging for gravel. It’s been going on for months. The worst thing is that it’s happening in plain sight of the police. An investigation must start. It is alleged that Mack-sized quarry trucks park near to the Matura police station during the day and transport gravel at night.
The quarry is on Orosco Road, the road that turtle watchers must take to get to Matura beach. This is a very special area for Trinidadians. Matura beach is one of the world’s most important leatherback turtle nesting sites. We bring our children here so that they can marvel at the majestic leatherback turtles that come ashore here. It is at Matura beach that children learn that a Trinidadian community can come together to protect one of the world’s iconic animals from extinction. It is here that they have proof that Trinidadians can rise to the challenge, achieve greatness and be protectors of the living earth.
This forest and beach should be sacrosanct. If we protect only one spot in Trinidad from illegal quarries, this is it. This is not just about protecting a forest next to a turtle nesting beach—this is about protecting hope for our country in one of our hope-spots.
The entrance to the quarry is where the asphalt pavement on Orosco Road ends. The road was partially paved some time ago and that’s where the contractor stopped. The excavator is usually parked 200 metres from the quarry, in the forest. The quarry used to operate 24/7 but now there is only activity is at night. Maybe this new clandestine behaviour is due to the increased number of visitors to the area now that turtle nesting season has started. Most visitors come at night but the quarry operators must feel safe, concealed by the night.
Four or five truckloads are transported each night. They must pass by the junction in the middle of the village. The police station is so close to the junction that the officers on duty must feel the vibration of the trucks. The destination is not yet known, but Trinidad is small and it’s only through deliberate obstruction that an investigation would not succeed. It’s easy to follow one of the trucks, or to put a GPS transmitter in one of them while they are parked near the police station, while nobody looks. So far it hasn’t been done.
If there’s one breed of environmental criminals that deserve special caution, it’s the illegal quarry gangs. There’s just too much money on the table. There are reports of people who have spoken out against the illegal quarry trade being killed. I have had veiled death threats issued to me by illegal quarry owners. It’s scary but if we don’t stand up for this, then we don’t stand for anything at all.
When it comes to environmental crimes and personal safety it’s not the big corporations that you have to worry about. If you give them a chance they will sue you and leave you penniless, but they won’t kill you. The small time crook who drives the Benz or the Range Rover paid for by nefarious activities, that’s the one who will go to all lengths to protect what he or she has.
The illegal quarry owners are a criminal subculture who live by the gun and die by the gun.
When Kyle de Lima and myself first got involved with environmental activism, at the time with Trini Eco Warriors, we said in an interview that we weren’t doing anything different in our lives, except we now “refuse to look the other way.” With all the lawlessness and fear in T&T the criminals expect us to look the other way to avoid trouble. But we can’t do that anymore if we want to save T&T. The lion rules by separating weak individuals from the herd, but if the herd sticks together it can easily kill the lion.
There’s a very considerable fine for illegal quarrying. It’s $500,000 and five years imprisonment for a first offence and $700,000 and seven years imprisonment the second time around. It’s time we see some illegal quarry owners charged and convicted, and ask the police why they do not act against these criminals operating in broad daylight.
If there’s one breed of environmental criminals that deserve special caution, it’s the illegal quarry gangs. There’s just too much money on the table. There are reports of people who have spoken out against the illegal quarry trade being killed. I have had veiled death threats issued to me by illegal quarry owners. It’s scary but if we don’t stand up for this, then we don’t stand for anything at all.
The Tobago House of Assembly on Friday passed a motion to phase out polystyrene foam products on the island at its plenary sitting.
The motion, which was moved by Infrastructure Secretary, Kwesi Des Vignes, surrounded preserving Tobago’s environmental integrity through the phasing out of the importation, production and use of polystyrene foam products and the promotion of alternative products.
“We have to save our planet (Tobago) from ourselves...for ourselves and for our future,” was the central statement by Secretary Des Vignes, as he delivered the introduction at the second plenary sitting 2017.
Des Vignes said that there was need to rethink how the environment is treated and the habits that inform local consumption and disposal.
According to the Secretary, the Department of Environment has actively pursued strategies and initiatives which focus on four R’s, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover.”
The 5th “R,” now added by the Secretary is “Rethink.”
“Tobago must lead the way on this policy direction...in over 100 countries, they have already banned polystyrene products,” he stressed.
The motion comes from concerns over the findings of recently conducted Situation Analysis; and a Waste Characterization Study of the local wasteland.
Therefore, deliberations were geared at sensitising Tobagonians of the threats polystyrene foam products and improper disposal have on the environment, health and the Island’s economy.
Styrofoam, the secretary said, because of its non-biodegradable and non-renewable characteristic, contributes primarily to urban litter which threaten marine and wild life and ultimately the health of humans.
In the first instance, caterers and suppliers to the Assembly and at Assembly events are to use alternative packaging, many of which are already on the market.
“This motion would give us the opportunity to explore new areas in manufacturing and exporting...there is big business in alternative products for Tobagonians,” the Secretary said.
Moreover, among other direct initiatives, the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment (DIQE) would move to table an executive note for the formation of a multi-stakeholder committee to do further research and devise a longer-termed action plan in the direction.
The Committee is to comprise the private sector, environmental activists, environmental engineers and other community groups.
Further, the secretary indicated that the Division is partnering with the Ministry of Planning to treat with implementing legislation to phase out Styrofoam products in Tobago and to forge supporting policy which complement the successful implementation of ecologically friendly and economically sustainable plans.
The Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) presented a draft diversification roadmap to the ministers and permanent secretaries in attendance at a meeting last week.
The roadmap comes out of a recognition that the negative economic impact of the sharp fall in oil and gas prices since mid-2014 as well as the decline in the production of both crude oil and natural gas is forcing T&T to diversify its sources of income.
The Ministry of Planning and Development in collaboration with the EDAB, led by economist Terrence Farrel, have been pursuing measures to diversify the economy, a statement from the ministry said.
At this meeting, it was agreed that private public and private sector coordination, stakeholder leadership and partnership, inter-ministerial collaboration, resources and focused actions are some of the key variables for this journey.
Some of the other factors highlighted were the development of research and development in the public, private and tertiary education sectors in Trinidad and Tobago. Worker productivity and work ethics were also seen as challenges to be overcome.
The draft diversification roadmap presented by the EDAB identifies seven industries to drive diversification which include manufacturing for export, nearshore financial services, creative industries, tourism, energy services, digital platforms and business process outsourcing and trans-shipment, ship repair and maritime-related services.
Also highlighted are seven enablers which serve as initiatives which must be addressed for the efficient and effective realisation of the diversification agenda as well as overcome obstacles to development.
These are: infrastructure, both physical and “soft” such as health and education; diaspora engagement; foreign direct investment; economic and commercial diplomacy as well as branding T&T; innovation; private sector and university collaboration and institutional reforms. The draft diversification roadmap is a rationalisation of what must be done towards the short, medium and long term in order to achieve a partial to fully-diversified economy.
The ministers and permanent secretaries present will further analyse the document at the levels of their various ministries and more work will be done on the ideas presented to further enhance the concepts laid out and transform them into actionable plans for success.
Planning Minister Camille Robinson Regis called the meeting to further discuss actions towards diversification with Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan; Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Friday.
As they lit candles on the spot where Christopher Wells took his last breath on Saturday night, Pleasantville residents yesterday vowed to hit the streets in protest against Government’s handling of crime.
Wells, 32, of Hibiscus Drive, Pleasantville, was sitting outside the Top Notch Barber and Beauty Salon at Pleasantville Plaza, where he worked, when he was shot dead.
According to reports, Wells was sitting on a chair while speaking on his cell phone around 11 pm as the shop was about to close when he was attacked.
Two men, believed to be from the community, walked up to him and demanded his phone. He refused and was shot in the head. It is believed the gunmen stole his gold chain, as only his pendant was found on the floor.
Insp Ramkhelawan, Insp Gajadhar, Sgt Ramlogan, Cpl Burke, Cpl Heeralal and Cpl Ramoutar responded and searches were made throughout the community, but the suspects were not found.
One of the suspects was said to be a man from the area who allegedly murdered truck driver Kern Joseph last month.
Up to yesterday, however, investigators said they were yet to determine a motive for Well’s murder.
One of Wells’ colleagues, who did not want to be identified, said he was in the salon when the gunmen came. However, he said because the glass was tinted on the inside, he could not see what happened and all he heard was a gunshot.
“The security told us to stay inside. When the fellas walked off, then the security told us to come out,” he said.
“He (Wells) was sitting on his phone, but I really couldn’t see anything because my glass was tinted inside and there was no light outside.”
Nigel Williams, whose wife rents the spot from the HDC, said the murder was a direct result of poor administration. He said there were four security officers in a booth who saw what took place and were unable to do anything.
As a former president of the now defunct Pleasantville Village Plaza Association, he said it has been six years since the CCTV cameras on the compound had not been working.
He said when the police stopped manning the plaza years ago, there were a lot of robberies, forcing many businesses to close down.
“At this point we are fed up in Pleasantville with what is happening. Today is 40 days since the last murder on Parakeet Boulevard. We have another one here and I think the people are fed up,” Williams said.
“Some people are calling for a town meeting with the police, but I don’t even think that will work. I think it is time for us to hit the streets and I am going to agitate for that.”
Williams said the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), who is responsible for the plaza, always claims it has no money for maintenance of plazas.
He said the former and present government did nothing, adding that their MP, Randall Mitchell, was like a ghost in the community. He called on Mitchell to meet with the people and deal with their problems.
“Randall Mitchell, it is time for you to come out, meet your people and deal with it. I, Nigel Williams, will take to the floor for you. You need to respect the people of Pleasantville, know the people in San Fernando East, come out and give us support.”
He said it was time citizens get a government and a country that they deserve and it was time to do something to get there.
Williams said businesspeople were under attack, but when they apply for a Firearm User License to help protect themselves they are denied.
Mitchell: Mall review on
Contacted yesterday, Mitchell said the HDC was reviewing the management of all its plazas with the aim of improving operational systems and security.
As he extended condolences to Wells’ family, he said although it was the first murder at any of the HDC’s plazas, it was one too many. He said the HDC takes the safety of its tenants and customers very seriously and is working towards improving conditions. Although the residents called on him to be more visible, Mitchell said he frequents the community
HDC’s corporate communications manager, Maurisa Findlay, also extended condolences on behalf of the corporation. Findlay said the remodelling and improvement strategy for all seven plazas will be rolled out soon.
Following the murder of Sylvan Alexis, brother of murdered crime lord Selwyn “Robocop” Alexis, two other men were killed in the Central Division yesterday.
In the first incident, 35-year-old Marvin Allan was gunned down while standing outside his vehicle along John Street, Enterprise, Chaguanas, not to far from where Sylvan Alexis was killed on Friday evening.
In the second killing, police are seeking assistance in identifying a man found in some bushes at the side of David Toby Road, Cunupia. Police said the two killings were not related and initial reports suggested that Allan was killed because he was a state witness.
Police said Allan, of Caroni Savannah Road, Caroni, was standing outside his vehicle around 7 am when he was approached by a gunman who opened fire on him.
Police said while they were responding to Allan’s killing, they received a report around 11 am that the body of a man of African descent was found in some bushes. The deceased was in a torn up black jersey and a short multi-coloured chequered pants. His hands and feet had been bound with what appeared to be black tie straps. He had a tattoo of a crown on his chest and tattoos on both shoulders.
The latest killings in the Central Division and that of a barber in Pleasantville pushed the murder toll to 118 for the year up to last evening.
London authorities are examining whether Khalid Masood, the British-born man behind last week’s London Parliament attack, was of Caribbean descent.
Masood, a convert to Islam, was born in Kent as Adrian Elms. He was also known as “Adrian Ajao.”
He launched an attack at London’s Westminster Bridge last Wednesday, ploughing his vehicle into pedestrians on the bridge. He then drove to the nearby British Parliament which he attempted to storm. Masood stabbed a policeman to death there before was shot and killed by officers. Five died in the attack and 40 were injured.
T&T born, UK terrorism expert Candyce Kelshall is now exploring whether Masood was of Caribbean descent, she confirmed to the T&T Guardian yesterday.
Kelshall is a doctoral fellow at the UK’s Buckingham University’s Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies and was an advisor to the British Metropolitan and British Transport police. She’s also chair (Direct Action International) and a specialist in specialist maritime, military and police training.
Kelshall, daughter of Rear Admiral Richard Kelshall, is also an adjunct professor on terrorism risk and terrorism studies with Simon Fraser University in Canada.
Masood, 52, was born in the UK to a white mother and black father. Later he also took his stepfather’s name, “Ajao.”
UK reports noted he’d been “a normal football loving teen” but became involved in petty crime. In 2000, he slashed a man’s face over a racism issue. He travelled to Saudi Arabia that year and worked teaching English to foreigners. He reportedly married a Muslim woman in 2004 and returned to the UK in 2009. Masood was on the UK authorities’ radar because of radical Islamist status.
After the London attacks, Kelshall told media, including Canada’s Global News, she didn’t believe it was a “lone wolf” attack. While it was a shocking incident, it wasn’t unexpected, she added.
“(We) in the UK had been planning for something of that nature. The threat level has been high, so an attack was expected,” Kelshall had noted.
On the road forward, Kelshall said authorities needed to work with communities procatively rather than reactively. She had detailed steps which UK authorities would have taken immediately after the attack, including tracking possible accomplices and policing action needed.
She said authorities also had to examine upscaling or possible changes to responses to guard against another attack, though one wasn’t indicated.
An estimated 300o people in the UK are being monitored due to the potential for involvement in terrorism, it was confirmed.
Head of the Hindu Prachar Kendra, Ravi Ji, says the panyard should be treated as a sacred space.
He made the comment during the Lloyd Best Institute’s Convois 2017, titled Identity and Transformation, at Renegades Panyard, Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain, on Saturday.
Ravi Ji said, “T&T has harvested many world civilisations. In this small twin-island state resides a wide range of sanskaaras/rites of passage which have survived colonialism.
“I stand here in this wholly indigenous institution, the panyard, which is a space for rites of passage. It is unique in its origin, function and nature. Most importantly, it is unique in its potential.
“My purpose today is to call attention to the panyard as this sacred space where a verifiable miracle has happened. Here is where the miracle of the old discarded rubbish pan was transformed as a rites of passage.”
He said he had read ten papers on pan, but not even one mentioned the word ‘panyard’ and that was a kind of neemakaramism.
Ravi Ji asked if people were so blind to the panyard how they could see its intrinsic worth if they did not know how to explore it fully? He said as a community worker, he felt the importance of the panyard and how it had engaged the people for many years.
Ravi Ji said the panyard had placed T&T on the map of the world and had created a unique sound for the world.
Several speakers, representing various, diverse religions, gave their perspectives on the importance of birth and naming ceremonies during the event.
Basdai Premchandsingh represented the Hindu experience, Imam Muhammad Luqman Abdul-Latif spoke on the Muslim viewpoint, Sister Alicson Hudlin gave her perspective as a midwife and also as a Christian and Iya Shango for the Orisa faith.
Premchandsingh spoke about the stratification of colour among the races, where light skin was deemed better than dark skin, when she was growing up in Trinidad.
Author Earl Lovelace said he noted the commonalities among several of the religions. He said many people had been quite comfortable almost to assume the positions given them by society because of their skin colour and class.
Lovelace said people had to decide whether they wanted a society of conformity or something entirely new, which he saw was coming.
A one-minute silence was also observed at the event in honour of Nobel Prize-winning poet Sir Derek Walcott, who was buried on Saturday.
The uncle of Sharlene Somai, the mother who was found strangled near her home two days after she went missing, yesterday called on relatives and by extension the country not to be hateful because of the tragedy.
Speaking at Somai’s funeral service at the family’s Petersfield Village, Chaguanas home, Lloyd Joseph, a pastor, said: “Let us not be hateful. We should leave it in God’s hand. Justice is pure and peaceful and good, some people don’t want justice they want vengeance. Do not leave here today with hate in your heart for the killers.”
Also speaking at the funeral service were Member of Parliament for the area, Ramona Ramdial, who called on the community to look out for one another and Somai’s cousin Crystal Ramroop, who recalled Somai being madly in love with her husband Suraj Toolsie, 35, who police detained for questioning after her body was found but was later released.
Somai, the mother of a four-year-old boy, went missing last Tuesday night. It is believed that when she left her home at 7.30 pm to go to a nearby parlour, she was snatched from inside the compound.
Her cell phone was found the following morning in the verandah. Three weeks ago, Somai opened a food establishment in Bamboo close to the Grand Bazaar Mall. Her autopsy stated that she was strangled.
As Parliament moves to resume the execution of convicted murderers, Bishop of the United West Indian Baptist Sacred Order, Leon John, says this will not deter criminals as the crime detection rate is too low.
Giving his personal view on the death penalty during the annual baptist Liberation Rally in San Fernando on Saturday, John said if criminals believe they can commit crimes without being caught they will continue their crimes.
The success of the death penalty has long been debated in society, with many believing it does little to deter the murder rate.
With the murder rate spiralling once again, John said penalties, including a death penalty, would only work if you have someone to impose them on.
“In order you hang somebody you have to really find out who actually did the murder. The rate of detection of crime in Trinidad and Tobago is really low, so even if you increase penalties, if you don’t find persons who did the crime, hangings will not help much,” John said.
“I believe that it would not make a difference with what is taking place with crime. I’m not in support of bringing back hangings as a deterrent to crime. If the criminals know that they will be caught, that will be a deterrent. If they know they can do crimes and get away, even if there is hanging as the final penalty, that would not be a deterrent.”
During a post-Cabinet media briefing on March 16, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he was a firm believer in capital punishment and that those who have chosen crime as a way of life should pay the ultimate penalty. Rowley said he had communicated with former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, who had provided a pathway for the Office of the Attorney General to make sure the existing law can be used.
Maharaj is expected to host a media conference today to speak on Rowley’s announcement.
It was during Maharaj’s term as attorney general in 1999 that Dole Chadee and his gang were executed, after being convicted for the murders Hamilton Baboolal, his sister, Monica and their parents. Two children, Osmond and Sumatee Baboolal, survived the attack. Osmond later turned to a life of drugs.
Giving an insight into what might come today, Lawrence said, “I’m basically dealing with the announcement made by the Prime Minister with respect to the submission of a plan for the implementation of the death penalty. I’ll be talking about the questions and issues that have been raised following that announcement.”
He said he will also be dealing with the laws to abolish preliminary inquiries and introduce judge alone trials which Government intends to introduce, as well as its fight against crime since coming into office
Even as fire-fighters worked to extinguish the million-dollar blaze which gutted the building housing De Nu Pub, Sweet Lime Restaurant and Ma Pau Casino in Woodbrook yesterday, the owners/operators assured no one would lose their jobs as a result.
De Nu Pub, formerly known as the Mas Camp Pub, situated at the corner of Ariapita Avenue and French Street, appeared to have sustained most damage as the fire razed its interior before spreading to the adjacent businesses.
While the cause of the blaze was unknown up to yesterday, De Nu Pub owner Roderick Ward said he was first alerted about the fire around noon by steelband arranger Pelham Goddard, who told him flames could be seen coming from the kitchen.
Wiping tears as he spoke of the landmark establishment, Ward, who co-owns the building with brother Mac Donald, said he arrived shortly after to see the building ablaze and fire officers at work. But the brothers pledged to rebuild and reopen in the shortest possible time.
De Nu Pub had closed its doors following business around 4 am yesterday and was set to reopen at 4 pm.
Ma Pau contained a handful of customers at the time the fire started, but fast-acting workers were able to safely evacuate the building.
However, one worker had to been treated at hospital for smoke inhalation.
In the midst of the ensuing chaos, Ma Pau workers rushed to the assistance of caretakers at the nearby Dee’s Nursing Home, as the billowing smoke sent the 14 residents there scurrying further back into the house when they began to experience respiratory problems.
The home’s residents were temporarily relocated to a nearby pre-school.
Nurse Donna Constantine thanked the casino workers who rushed to their aid, noting one senior citizen was taken to hospital after she was found to be wheezing.
During the interview, a Global Medical Response team arrived to take two additional residents to hospital. Constantine said the patients’ families were contacted and asked to collect them because of the circumstances, as overnight accommodation would have to be organised. Ma Pau workers who did not want to be named said they smelt something burning before observing smoke coming from the lights.
A supervisor shouted to the other staff that something was burning and they rushed out the casino. Seconds later, the workers saw a nurse running towards them yelling for help.
One woman recalled: “We had no idea the smoke was affecting the patients at the home, so we ran over there to assist. It was so tragic to see the old people fighting to try and get out.
“They were barefoot, some running and others couldn’t breathe. We had no choice but to help.”
One of the male workers even placed a resident on his back to help with the temporary relocation as he moved the man to safety.
The workers said there were relieved to hear from Ma Pau director Sherry Persad that there would be no job losses since they will be transferred to other branches until the Woodbrook location is once again operational.
Persad later said: “No one has to fear for their employment. We are guaranteeing that everyone will be absorbed into other areas.”
Persad also commended the workers for their efforts to assist the elderly and confirmed one employee was treated at hospital.
Low water pressure
Assistant Chief Fire Officer (Northern Division), Marlon Smith said the call was received around noon yesterday and tenders from the Wrightson Road headquarters, Belmont and San Juan responded.
However, he said low water pressure at the hydrants hampered their operation somewhat and the supply was supplemented by Water and Sewerage Authority water trucks.
Smith was unable to provide any preliminary information as to the fire’s origin, but said they will return to the site today to sift through the debris.
Some nearby residents were moved to tears over the loss of the iconic pub.
A couple sought to offer comfort to owner Roderick Ward.
The woman, whose son had worked at the Mas Camp Pub as a disc-jockey, said: “We know the people on a personal level so it is hurtful, it hits home. It is really sad.”
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi will not be backing down on his plans to implement legislation to abolish preliminary inquiries.
He made his intention to move ahead with the Indictable Offences (Pre-trial Procedure) Bill 2017 clear once again yesterday, despite calls by eminent people critical of the legislation, including the latest of that group, Pamela Elder, SC.
During a press conference on Saturday, Elder described the bill as “flawed, contradictory and a compilation of legislative babble.” She said the bill, which is intended to treat with delays in the criminal justice system, would actually result in more delays. She added that while its intentions are noble, in its current offering it could “wreck” the system, since certain clauses in the bill disregard the rights of the accused.
Acknowledging Elder’s passion for her profession yesterday, Al-Rawi said his Government did not intend to become a victim of the “analysis paralysis” that had afflicted previous regimes. He said unpopular decisions would be made and implemented in the interest of the taxpayers and for the greater good of the country.
He said Elder’s views were not unknown to him, but he counter argued that the proposed legislation was in fact, “bettering the rights of the accused who were entitled to a fair hearing in a fair time.”
He said the issue had been raised in the past at justice sector meetings, during which time Elder had clearly articulated her position that, “preliminary inquiries constitute a valid ground for young lawyers to cut their teeth on practice in the criminal justice sector.”
“Regrettably, I don’t share the same view, nor did anyone else at that committee share the same view on preliminary inquiries, but there was healthy discussion and persons certainly did agree to disagree,” Al-Rawi said.
Both Al-Rawi and Elder are members of the Justice Committee, which comprises the Chief Justice, Office of the Director of the Public Prosecutions, criminal court judges, Ministry of National Security, the AG’s office and the Criminal Justice Advisor.
The AG said while there were merits many people could raise to keep the system as it is, the truth was that, “the elimination of preliminary inquiries will have the immediate effect of reducing the vast amount of time spent in pre-trial issues or committal proceedings.”
Committal proceedings allow accused an opportunity to see the case being presented against them and to probe the case, he said. With the actual trial now beginning only when it got to the Assizes, Al-Rawi assured, “all those rights to see the case put against you, be presumed innocent until proven guilty, to test and make submissions on the case against you are preserved.”
He said an accused at the indictment at the High Court could offer no case submissions and have matters treated “the same way you would have in the preliminary inquiry.”