|Kamla: Carnival will be safe |
By LAUREL V WILLIAMS Thursday, January 9 2014
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Adopt puppy: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar holds a mix-breed puppy up for adoption at Animal Alive, Ralph Narine Trace, South Oropouche yester...
DESPITE the new year recording 20 murders in the first eight days, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is reassuring visitors and citizens that Carnival would be safe promising the implementation of safety and security measures.
“We would do all that we can as a state to ensure the safety and security of citizens as well as our visitors for Carnival. We have had really good Carnivals over the years, we intend to put everything in place to ensure safety and security at that time, a very busy time of the year for us,” she told reporters yesterday.
Carnival is on March 3, 4.
She was responding to questions by media personnel at the compound of Animal Alive at Ralph Narine Trace, South Oropouche where she presented a cheque in the sum of $250,000 in the first annual subvention to the non-governmental organisation.
The Prime Minister noted the escalation in crime over the years, did not deter visitors from coming to the country. “I do not recall the number, but many hundreds of thousands came in last year. I do not expect it to deter them, but it must be a cause for concern. I want to give the assurance that we will put all mechanisms in place to ensure safety and security for visitors and for citizens as we lead up into Carnival,” she added.
Yesterday, representatives from Carnival stakeholders and security organisations met with National Security Minister Gary Griffith, and National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman, Allison Demas to discuss safety and security issues for the festival.
A press release from the Ministry of National Security noted the attendees included Port-of-Spain Mayor, Raymond Tim Kee; Director of the National Operations Centre, Commander Garvin Heerah and his team; Chief Fire Officer Nayar Rampersad and other senior fire officers; as well as senior members of the Police Service.
Griffith told Newsday, “The meeting was very informative. It was the first time that different agencies came together so early in the season to make sure everyone was on the same page.”
He said representatives from the Fire Service, NCC, the police and other agencies would feed information to the National Operations Centre to ensure speedy response to any situation during Carnival. He preferred not to disclose the results of the meeting but said there would be use of helicopters, GPS for mas bands and monitoring of traffic over the season.
“The purpose of the meeting was to discuss plans for traffic control, secured routes in cases of emergency, the positioning of tactical units and venue operation centres in and around Port-of-Spain as well as other important security measures. Also discussed were issues such as illegal vending which contributes to crime, the flow of bands and other congestions, waste disposal and clean up, signage and notification of toilet and other public facilities,” according to the ministry release.
Griffith noted each agency expressed their security concerns which would be taken into consideration and assured there would be weekly meetings to discuss coordination and ensure the safety of citizens and visitors.
NCC vice chairman, Don Sylvester, yesterday expressed confidence in the Police Service and the Ministry to ensure that Carnival is safe. He added that calls to ban Carnival because of the murders would negatively affect the whole country, including regional carnivals who prepared for the event for months.
Persad-Bissessar who also commented on forensic technology to help solve crimes admitted using the technology is a challenge “at the moment” adding there has been work in upgrading the Forensic Science Centre, St James.
“There is more work to be done and certainly we can improve with respect to using DNA and other forms of evidence in trials....That matter was brought to Parliament and as you know the Opposition refused to give their support to the bill to allow for expeditious hangings,” she said. See page 9A.