Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) president Gregory Aboud last night said it was "unthinkable" that the Police Service and the Judiciary, which has jurisdiction over the location of the court hearings, continue to inconvenience thousands of citizens by the traffic restrictions.
"These cases could be removed to another location where the hearings would not disrupt the entire city of Port-of-Spain," Aboud said, as he spoke about the disruptions which will be in effect Friday due to two high profile cases at the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' Court.
"Many of the people who make these decisions to disrupt our lives do not face that same disruption in their lives because they have special passes and special escorts while thousands of people will sit in their cars tomorrow (today) for hours because of their decisions."
Aboud said DOMA had written to Chief Justice Ivor Archie and copied then acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams about three months ago, after the traffic restrictions were imposed without notice at the start of the preliminary enquiry into Seetahal's murder. They wrote again about a month ago raising serious concerns about the decision, which prompted the Police Service to issue public notices about the traffic restrictions.
He said the decision to cordon off a section of Duke Street, a main artery which accommodates traffic flowing from East to West Port-of-Spain, resulted in peak-time traffic being backed up as far as Barataria, while the closure of St Vincent Street had caused gridlock traffic as far north as St Ann's. Aboud said the disruption of traffic along Abercromby Street, which motorists use to head north out of the city, had left drivers stranded for hours along South Quay and affects traffic all the way to the Eastern Main Road in Laventille.
"The accused are alleged to have committed a crime that is so serious as to damage the reputation and social fabric of the country. But as an additional injury, their trial at the Magistrates' Court in Port-of-Spain is damaging the economic health of the city of Port-of-Spain and disrupting the lives of ordinary people, including thousands of school children who attend classes in the environs of Richmond Street, St Vincent Street, Abercromby Street, Pembroke Street and Park Street," he said.
Aboud said DOMA had suggested to the CJ that criminal court cases that require "ultimate security" be relocated to a remote location where that type of security arrangement can be provided without "punishing the people of Port-of-Spain."
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