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Fingers point at police for yesterday’s traffic chaos
Blame must be placed squarely on the Police Service after commuters were stuck in traffic for up to five hours yesterday morning while waiting to enter Port-of-Spain, former junior National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said yesterday.
Angry Sea Lots residents again took to the streets yesterday, burning debris and demanding justice following the tragic deaths of Haydee Paul and her daughters Ruthie, eight, and Shakira, seven, on Sunday.
The three were struck by a car driven by an off-duty policeman. They had just bought produce at the Central Market and were occupying the pavement of the west bound lane of the Beetham Highway with three other people heading for their Sea Lots home.
After the incident residents warned they would not let up in their protest until the perpetrator faced the full brunt of the law. Hinds, who described the Police Service as demonstrating “abject incompetence” in ensuring law and order on the highway, added it was easily predicted that residents would vent their feelings again yesterday.
“I want to accuse the Government, the national security minister and the police leadership as being absolutely incompetent in this matter,” he said. “This is not the first time that someone has been killed and residents have protested by blocking the roads. This has happened before over the years and proper measures should have immediately been put in place. Anyone could have predicted that the protest which happened on Sunday would have easily repeated itself.”
Police, he suggested, should have stayed on the highway instead of returning to their bases. What the Government should have done immediately, he said, was to send in counsellors if warranted, accompanied by police, to comfort the wider Sea Lots community. However, while he understood the pain residents were experiencing, Hinds appealed to them to let the law take its course and stop engaging in confrontation with the police.
“Justice will come. I am confident the matter would be properly investigated. “But it does not make any sense for you to impose yourself on the police, because this leads to bad relations. Keep the peace and allow the process to take its course.” On allegations that police were removing bits of evidence from the crime scene after the accident, Hinds advised residents to record their concerns and include names of police officers.
Lee Sing speaks
Should people be living in Sea Lots? - PoS mayor
The tragedy has brought to the fore a larger issue: whether people should be living in Sea Lots in the first instance, Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing said yesterday.
And he called on the Government to thoroughly examine the land use in Port-of-Spain. “This must be properly thought out and I do not believe it is being given serious consideration.
“It is also time to look at another mode of transportation like the rapid rail. Mass transportation must be considered,” Lee Sing added.
Asked if the police had dealt ineffectively with the traffic situation yesterday, Lee Sing said one must not be too quick to judge them. “Maybe the police believed they had good reason to leave because they believed the matter was adequately addressed and believed everything would be running smooth.”
Police did a fantastic job-association
What drivers fail to understand is that the capacity of the roadways is limited, which would therefore limit movement, but the police did all they could to ensure traffic was flowing smoothly, acting Insp Anand Ramesar said yesterday.
Ramesar, president of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association, said the Traffic Branch also responded quickly and called out officers from other units to assist.
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