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Failures–ferries, escapes, security

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Christmas red, resplendent among yesterday’s outfits of several PNM MPs, marked entry of the merry season to Parliament.

UNC MP Rudy Indarsingh was particularly taken with PNM MP Randall Mitchell’s red tie—and the need to guard against excesses which could land a Parliamentarian in forums as high as the Parliament.

“San Fernando East, you wearing red; like you ready for Christmas,” Indarsingh noted

“We go havta take a drink—but don’t do like (PNM Senator) Lester (Henry). All you keeping him or he going like (Arnold) Piggott? Poor Lester already have money for Jawala (Rambaran).”

Mitchell, spotting defeated UNC leadership contender Christine Newallo-Hosein—and potential PNM comeback—gamely ventured, “So when all you reshuffling UNC’s front row?”

Government’s “holy” trinity—Prime Minister, Attorney General and Chief Defence Stuart Young—however were the ones bearing the brunt of this week’s issues.

There was no outward sign of egg gracing Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s countenance after his November 12 promise of a Tobago ferry fell through following recent tender failure.

On Thursday, Young true to job spec, had—instead of Rowley—broken the news, deflecting fears of Tobago Christmas crisis.

The fact that normally loquacious Tobago Chamber Diane Hadad had one word for the development, voiced the depth of Tobagonians’ (yes—she was born there) reaction.

“Ludicrous!” Hadad declared.

The development crowned a year of spectacular seabridge failures. Failure of a sixth tender—even spanning two administrations and despite Government’s finger-pointing at Port management—is a negative for all.

Port management has questions to answer on Government’s “influence” push claim. Government should detail this. And the evaluation team’s recommendations require disclosure.

Exclusion of Works Minister Rohan Sinanan from Government’s ferry-hunting ministerial team may (or may not) lie in the fact Nidco—which will handle ferry negotiations—falls under Works.

The ministerial team’s advent particularly telegraphed Government’s loss of confidence in Port management (and Board by extension.) How it plays out and who falls, is ahead.

In another corruption-clouded arena—crime and security, Vicky Boodram’s short lived escape loaned insight into myriad shortcomings. Prison escape frequency sharply testifying to specifics.

Boodram appeared to have slinked out in circumstances more in synch with alleged “line” of “work” which landed her “inside” on 100-plus fraud charges.

Where loopholes reside—within and without police/prisons authorities, jail, judicial domain or otherwise—remain to be revealed.

Negative image of security system collapses due to the “escape,” wasn’t fully countered by Government’s subsequent anti-gang announcements.

That was more to support Government’s denunciations of last week’s Beetham protest.

Government’s gang statistics—most detailed to date and showing increases—is a wake-up call on the actual gang threat to T&T. Broadest official recognition of the depth of organised crime and Rasta City and Muslim gangs.

That disclosure coupled with recently released Deosaran Police Service Manpower audit report—required reading for survival planning—and other events provides clear picture of the challenge to security.

Challenge such that even with 82 recommendations, the report projects five to ten years to reform the police service.


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