In T&T: SoE dragged on too long

7 December 2011

20/20 hindsight maybe? Widely echoed sentiments post-SOE come to light. I have a feeling some have switched bandwagons along the way.

Now that the State of Emergency has ended, business leaders say the Government did not seem as prepared as it should have been to carry out security exercises efficiently and hope the State has learnt from its mistakes.

“We are disappointed that the security forces were not fully prepared in making arrests and gathering evidence. There were some blunders. We can’t do anything about that now but we hope they learnt from them,” said Peter Kanhai, president of the Greater Tunapuna Chamber of Commerce.

“We had given our support of the initiative when it was first implemented. We would really not like to see that this turns out to have been a charade. Our concern would be the impact on the economy and the country’s international reputation,” he added during a telephone interview.

“Better policing must be done,” Kanhai added.

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce said in a statement yesterday that when the SoE was first implemented, members were also in support, as it signalled a determination by the nation’s leadership to rein in runaway crime.

The Chamber noted that while there was success in reducing crime, members were disappointed and dissatisfied with the utilisation of the Anti-Gang Legislation, particularly since those who were detained under it were subsequently released due to insufficient or no evidence.

“It is our hope that coming out of this, the Government and its advisory security forces will utilise the lessons learned from the past three months and revisit and implement more effective legal and security measures to ensure there is no repeat,” the Chamber said.

President of the San Juan Business Association Abrahim Ali concurred with Kanhai and the Chamber.

“The SoE did have an impact on crime in the country, but the contention arises from how it was implemented. Instead of having it dragging on this long, then having to find out that people who were held have to be released because they couldn’t be is not comforting at all…The Government acted in a manner that reflected that they were green in the security aspect,” he said.

Ali said Christmas sales on the heels of the SoE so far were bad, and had been since Divali.

“Overall the entire economy has taken such a nose-dive. We are looking at a depressed Christmas season,” he said.

But president of the San Fernando Business Association Daphne Bartlett said the slowdown in sales was part of the global economic slowdown, not just the SoE. Bartlett said it was bold move on the part of the Prime Minister to call the SoE at a time when crime was getting out of hand. “Since then we have had much less murders…if we can save just one life that was a benefit. I would love to see them carry it on further so they can continue their work.”


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