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Happy Republic Day

Monday, September 24 2012

Because of the heightened emphasis placed on Trinidad and Tobago’s recent 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations, and with many persons still being caught up by the hype, there may very well be increased partying, liming and drinking as the country celebrates Republic Day today.

And while it is standard practice to advise owner-operators of vehicles, who may be partying , not to drink and drive, indeed not to drink and drive on any occasion, it is of increased importance today. In addition, there should be increased police patrols on the nation’s roads and the posting of police officers outside of fetes which are expected to be well patronised, as well as liming places in Woodbrook and St James and at river limes and the popular beaches in Trinidad and Tobago.

Police should be on the lookout for persons indulging in unauthorised drag racing or driving in a reckless manner on highways, main roads and secondary roads. There should be adequate police patrols, not only to discourage driving under the influence of liquor, but persons bent on overtaking on the wrong side of the road, driving on the shoulders of roads or speeding. This is not only in the interests of other users of the road, but passengers in these vehicles and the drivers themselves.

And while we appreciate that citizens will be celebrating the country’s 36th anniversary of becoming a Republic, there is absolutely no excuse for motorists breaking the law and endangering the lives of others, who plan on being around for several more Republic Days. The police have been seeking to prevail upon vehicle operators for years, that if they plan on consuming alcohol they should have designated drivers, that is persons with up to date driving permits, accompanying them to parties, who as a rule do not drink or would not be consuming alcohol today.

Despite this, all too many operators of cars and other vehicles insist on the consumption of alcohol, with some of them actually claiming that they drive better after having “drinks under the belt”. Even though we do not seek to make a blanket condemnation, nevertheless many persons who were said to have “lost control” of their vehicles after having been involved in major accidents, most of them fatal, may very well have been driving under the influence.

Today, Republic Day, is an important day in the history of Trinidad and Tobago and we should respect it as such. Instead of some persons using it as an excuse for partying, they should reflect on the importance of the day. Fathers should explain to their children the struggle for Trinidad and Tobago to become an independent nation and the importance of the Constitution being changed from one which saw it merely as a Dominion or as the Concise Oxford English Dictionary points out “a self governing territory of the Commonwealth” to that of a Republic.

Trinidad and Tobago is one of two countries in the Commonwealth Caribbean to become a Republic, with the other being the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. And although, Barbados established a Constitution Commission which recommended that the country become a Republic and actually drew up guidelines for a Republican constitution, it has not taken the necessary steps to effect the change. So that Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana remain the only Member States of the Caribbean Community of Nations (Caricom) which are today Republics.

The country’s Republican status is, doubtlessly, something to celebrate, but as we pointed out earlier, motorists who plan on going partying, going to the beach or on river limes should either refrain from drinking and driving or have designated drivers. Newsday wishes all of its readers and indeed all citizens of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, an enjoyable Republic Day.

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