Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday announced the immediate lifting of the 11 pm to 4 am curfew in T&T.Addressing a news briefing following a special meeting of the National Security Council, Persad-Bissessar, who chaired the meeting, said: "The curfew is over."She added, however, that the state of emergency, which was declared on August 21, remains in effect."So the curfew is lifted both on land and on sea immediately. We will review that as well from day-to-day as we continue to monitor the situation," she said.
Persad-Bissessar advised citizens to continue to observe the laws of the land."The Government reserves the right to impose limited curfews when and where necessary," she added.She said certain exercises "to ensure we do not slip back into the level of criminality will remain."She said: "We will further strengthen the Central Intelligence Command."We will continue to strengthen law enforcement presence on the ground by retaining joint Army Police patrols and by precepting regimental police from the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment to support police work in the field.
"We will expand CCTV across cities, malls and vulnerable areas and increase the number of mobile patrols."We will introduce a range of specifically targeted social and cultural initiatives to strengthen community life."An employment creation intervention to generate 20,000 jobs in low income communities will begin shortly."Persad-Bissessar said the state of emergency was successful, although not totally. She said the measure averted a crisis that was threatening T&T in August.The Prime Minister was critical of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley who said there was no need for the state of emergency as the police could have done their work without such a declaration.
She said: "It is unfortunate that we continue to be saddled by an Opposition which refuses to work with the Government in the national Interest and apparently prefers instead to snipe and mislead citizens for narrow partisan reasons, even when the truth is already in the public domain."At a time when the nation was crying out for a united assault on crime, the Opposition politicians failed miserably to rise to the defence of the citizenry against a marauding criminal force."Persad-Bissessar gave statistics to show there was a significant decrease in the number of serious crime in T&T during the emergency.
She said the murder toll for October was the lowest in the past two decades.She added: "We do not claim a complete victory. There have been challenges along the way but undoubtedly the battle has been won to a large extent."Persad-Bissessar stressed: "When gang leaders tremble in fear, we have won; when the crime rate plummets, we have won; when guns and ammunition are removed from the streets that could have killed one more innocent man, woman or child, we have won."When one family can sleep better at night, we have won; when justice prevails, we have won; when illegal drugs are seized and destroyed and their operations shut down, we have won."
She added: "When the business community and citizens alike can join hands and make the sacrifice required by enduring the state of emergency and the limitations of the curfew, all in the interest of the greater good, we have won."At the end of it all, the weaponry, drugs and criminals that were removed in the last two-and-a-half months had not been achieved in several years of anti-crime efforts before now," the PM said.She, however, pointed out: "It would be the greatest understatement to say that the state of emergency and curfew are a success. It saved our nation. It redeemed all previous failed attempts."It has made Trinidad and Tobago safer than it has been for a very long time and it has given us a platform for moving forward purposefully."