The time for talk is over and action is needed on the crime crisis.
“This situation is affecting business and migrations are occurring,” T&T Chamber CEO Gabriel Faria said yesterday.
“Whether the reason for killings and other negative developments is gang-related or other criminal purposes, the population is being taxed to the brink.
“In the current situation, people take less comfort to know something is gang-related or other reasons when what they want solutions.”
The Chamber CEO expressed deep concern at the crime situation as up to yesterday the murder toll had reached approximately 71—46 murders in January and the rest this month. He wondered what is Government’s crime plan.
“We’re in a crisis. We recognise a plan can’t be developed overnight but certain things can be done with available resources. Why aren’t we seeing increased use of the Defence Force at least?” Faria asked.
“Our members, as well as non-members, tell us they see no army presence in their areas unless soldiers are undercover. We had been told at one point that 50 per cent of the Defence Force is assisting police.
“However, the Police Commissioner said during a Parliamentary committee meeting that the Army’s input was less than 500. In Trinidad and Tobago’s dire predicament, we have to stop protecting our turf and act.
“At this point, where Trinidad and Tobago’s image has become one of an increasingly-violent country, people aren’t dwelling as much on what’s causing it as on the need to have something done.
“That involves mobilising resources appropriately. I don’t think it’s consolation to the families of murder victims—and it doesn’t provide any assurance of safety to anyone else—that a situation was gang-related.
“All the family will know is their brother or son or mother or father is dead.
“The overall situation is impacting business. At a function on Tuesday, a businessman revealed to us a robbery attempt was made on his home when his family was there.
“He said they’re migrating since the situation now isn’t worth it. That sort of sentiment is increasing.”
Opposition MP Ganga Singh, noting that murder is the most serious crime, added: “Government appears challenged in the face of the murderous onslaught and appears to have surrendered to the criminal element.
“Trinidad and Tobago seem on the verge of a takeover by that element given the fact there had been over 2,000 murders previously.
“There used to be the feeling in Trinidad and Tobago that only those involved in crime and gang-related activity are at risk. That no longer seems to be the case.
“The atmosphere of increasing crime has created fear that in this new normal situation anyone can become collateral damage.
“If the situation is gang-related, then there must be clear answers on what’s being done to get it under control and restore some sense of security in communities.
“Once this is lost, it’s hard to regain. This is the end of the term, people aren’t waiting very long for answers.”