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Graduates of bpTT’s Brighter Prospects programme have been told not to despair when faced with a challenging job market.
Giselle Thompson, the energy company’s Vice President, Corporate Operations, who address the 19 graduates at a ceremony at bpTT’s Hospitality Suite, Queen’s Park Oval, urged them to persevere as the education process is continuous. Brighter Prospects is one of bpTT’s signature programmes within its corporate social responsibility portfolio.
Thompson said: “I know that those feelings of accomplishment in completing your studies can quickly be dashed as you face a very tough job market.
“My advice to you would be to be patient, be persistent, show up strong and have faith that you will get that job opportunity that you long for.”
She said the company understands the value of education to personal, community and national development, adding that it is one of bpTT’s areas of focus to achieve its aspiration of positively impacting national development.
Programmes range from early childhood to tertiary level.
“We work with many organisations to target areas of need. A key area of focus for us has been to introduce technology into the teaching and learning environment.
Through our smart board technology in education programme, for example, we are helping to modernize the delivery of the curriculum in a way that is interesting and aligned with how children interact with the world around them,” Thompson said. Ten smart boards have been installed at schools in Mayaro, Arouca, Port-of-Spain and Carenage and more than 60 teachers have been trained in the proper use of the technology.
The company also continues to marry technology and learning with the launch of the Arrow programme in primary schools in Mayaro and Tobago. The cutting-edge software helps children and adults improve their literacy.
“This fantastic programme consistently ranks among one of the top 10 programmes in the UK for literacy improvement,” Thompson said.
Valedictorian Amanda Mahadeo chronicled her struggles, which included lack of basic resources such as a computer. She said the assistance of bpTT propelled her study.
BRUSSELS—Two Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries are likely to be removed from the European Union list of tax havens next week, when European finance ministers meet here.
The Bahamas and St Kitts-Nevis had in the past strongly objected to be included in the list put out by the EU that had also included St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and T&T.
Since then, St Lucia, Grenada and Barbados have been removed, but T&T remains.
According to EU documents, Bahamas and St Kitts-Nevis had been blacklisted as their tax rules and practices were deemed not in line with EU standards.
Finance Minister, K Peter Turnquest, had earlier this year travelled to Brussels to argue his country’s position, noting in December last year, Nassau signed onto the Inclusive Framework for the implementation of the Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative with the OECD.
The EU documents show that the two Caribbean countries committed to changes and they would be moved them from the blacklist to a so-called grey list of jurisdictions with low tax transparency standards but aiming to become less opaque.
The EU finance ministers will meet on Friday next week and are expected to formally adopt the removal decision.
Earlier this year, Caricom leaders, who met in Haiti for the 29th inter-sessional summit, called on their finance ministers and central bank governors of the region to meet “expeditiously” to consider new proposals as regional governments continue to react to decisions by Europe in listing some countries as tax havens.
The communique issued at the end of the summit noted that the proposals on a Caricom Strategy had been prepared by a Caricom Technical Working Group. (CMC)
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says Chinese direct foreign investment is very important to T&T and he has invited the Mayor of Shenzhen, Chen Rugui, to organise a fact finding delegation of government officials, university scholars, high-tech professionals and business people to explore opportunities for partnering with T&T.
According to a release from the Office of the Prime Minister, Mayor Rugui is “readily committed” to assembling the delegation to undertake a visit in the shortest order.
Dr Rowley also reiterated his invitation for Chinese tourists to visit T&T and take advantage of the impending ease of visa requirements, as well as operationalisation of proposed air links.
Shenzhen is located in southeast China and links mainland China to Hong Kong. Its economy is rooted in the high-tech industry and it is a buzzing metropolis.
The T&T delegation arrived there yesterday from Shanghai and were officially received by Rugui and other Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government representatives at the Wuzhou Guest House. In discussions with Rugui, Dr Rowley said there is a lot T&T could learn from the way Shenzhen has developed over the last 40 years. He said the visit had deepened this country’s understanding of how special economic zones work and would be the basis of learning from and partnering with Shenzhen and other cities like it in the future.
Earlier in the week, Trinidad and Tobago became the first Caribbean nation to sign on to China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) otherwise known as the Belt and Road Initiative which is focused on creating and improving new links, trading routes and business opportunities with China.
Yesterday Mr and Mrs Rowley visited Lotus Hill Park and paid their respects at the statue of Deng Xiaoping who is widely recognised as the man responsible for the transformation of China.
The T&T delegation is expected to leave China today for Australia.
Pan Trinbago secretary Richard Forteau intends to launch an investigation as to who was responsible for throwing beer on attorney Farid Scoon when he tried to serve an injunction granted by High Court judge Joanne Charles to hold a special convention called by its president Keith Diaz.
Scoon, who was representing six members of Pan Trinbago’s central executive consisting of secretary Richard Forteau, treasurer Andrew Salvador, PRO Michael Joseph, external relations officer Darren Sheppard and trustees Allan Augustus and Trevor Reid, on Thursday, at the Communication Workers’ Union Hall, Port-of-Spain, was greeted by a group of boisterous band members and there was a brief verbal exchange after beer was thrown on him.
On May 3, High Court judge Ronnie Boodoosingh granted an injunction to Pan Trinbago’s central executive, restraining Diaz or any purported caretaker committee from exercising any of their functions.
In granting the injunction, Boodoosingh said there would be no substantial prejudice to Diaz and the status quo would result in him remaining a member of the executive and the interim committee would return to their non-executive status.
The executive members, who were ousted on April 17, took the matter to court challenging Diaz’s decision to convene the meeting at which the interim committee was set up to run the organisation until elections are held.
The injunction, which bars the interim committee from meeting and making any decisions in relation to the organisation, will last until the executives’ lawsuit before Boodoosingh is determined.
Forteau said he did not attend Thursday’s meeting which was called by Diaz, stating that he wanted the rift between them to end in the interest of the organisation.
This meeting fell outside the scope of Boodoosingh’s injunction, forcing the executive to seek a secondary injunction from Charles late Thursday.
Forteau said Diaz wrote him on May 7 asking for a special convention on May 17.
“I wrote Diaz on May 9 indicating to him the time was too short of the court’s decision,” Forteau said.
The executive members contended that the May 17 meeting was not called with the requisite 28 day-notice.
Though Diaz agreed to meet with them on May 28, Forteau said Thursday’s meeting was still held.
“While you are saying you would meet with us on May 28 you are doing things to amend the constitution of the organisation. Justice Boodoosingh would have told you the caretaker committee you put in place is null and void. So Diaz is defying the court order.”
Forteau said the executive is willing to meet with Diaz despite the court matter, since the conventional bands had not been paid their $16 million prize monies for the 2018 Panorama competition.
“We have to sort out this matter.”
He did not take lightly beer being thrown on Scoon which he said tantamount to assault.
“We are going to get to the bottom of it. We are going to find out who threw the beer. This was assault.”
Once the perpetrator is identified, Forteau said action will be taken against them based on its constitution.
Forteau said there was need for mediation to stop the ongoing feud.
“I am not happy to be coming out in public to talk about our affairs. Why can’t we set aside the little wrangling for the good of the organisation?”
In defence, Diaz said according to Pan Trinbago’s constitution he can call a special convention if there is an emergency.
Diaz said he was also accused of using the organisation’s funds to pay his legal fees which was not true.
“I have my legal fees to deal with. They took me to court. I didn’t take them to court.”
He described the executive as a cabal.
“The executive went ahead and kept meetings without my authority and made decisions and payments without my authority.”
Diaz said when the beer was thrown on Scoon, he was sitting away from the incident.
He refused to comment when asked if Culture Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly should intervene to bring peace on both sides.
Diaz has to appear in court on May 25.
Several calls to Gadsby-Dolly’s cellphone yesterday went unanswered.
A Joint Select Committee of Parliament inquiring into waste management policies has been told that as an industrialised country T&T needs a contaminated land inventory to ensure that lead and chemically contaminated land is not being used for construction of houses and agricultural purposes before proper remediation of contaminated land is done.
Technical manager of Green Engineering and a member of the Council of Presidents of the Environment, Kelli Danglad yesterday told the JSC, chaired by independent Senator Sophia Chote, that over the last ten years the company had managed a number of soil projects which involved areas contaminated by lead, caused by the improper disposal of batteries.
Danglad said one such area was in Arima. “There used to be in the 1970’s, a lead smelting factory and they used to dispose of slag in the communities so the soil became contaminated with lead,” she said.
Danglad said the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and UWI did a blood lead study with primary school children in Arima and found unusual quantities of lead in the blood of the children.
“When they went to their homes to investigate why and they realised they were living in an area where batteries were indiscriminately disposed and that led to lead contamination,” Danglad said.
In another case, she said, there was an individual in La Chance Trace, Arima, who was collecting batteries and recycling them in his yard.
“We visited the site and the soil is grey, you could see the lead and this was running into the Arima River. It is disturbing.”
The man’s children, according to Danglad, “had mental retardation from incidental ingestion of the lead.”
Asked by Chote whether injunctive action was sought against the man given the effect of the lead on the brain and the “life outcome” of the children, Danglad said she was uncertain whether that was explored by the EMA or even the health authorities. She said it was worth having “some kind of legal injunction or follow up monitoring.”
Danglad said the problem was not unique to Arima but also happens in Guayaguayare, where the recycling of lead is used as “sinkers for fishing”. In one case she said animals were affected.
Danglad said contamination of the soil not only leads to health issues including cancer and other diseases, “but it also costs the State to remediate.” She is suggesting that instead of taxpayers and the State be burdened with the costs “it should be the polluter who pays.”
Describing the situation as “alarming and frightening,” committee member Tarhaqa Obika suggested that a list of the offending persons be submitted to the committee to assist them in determining whether the offenders had gone elsewhere and were doing the same thing.
Danglad said Green Engineering had “developed a preliminary land inventory for Trinidad of sites which were previously used for industrial purposes, “where it could have been a battery factory, previous gas stations, previous chrome plating.”
DISPOSAL OF BATTERIES
Sarah de Freitas, Business Development Executive at Ace Recyling and Caribbean Battery Recycling, told the committee that the company is the only battery licensing facility certified to collect lead batteries for export.
She expressed concern that the company has had to report persons who collect batteries from the landfills to both OSHA and the EMA because “they drain the acid to get the lead into the ground and in this draining process there are lead particles which go into the ground.”
Salvagers, she said, also take the batteries to yards where the “handling of it is not environmentally sound.” She said if the batteries are taken to Caribbean Battery Recycling “we pay for it.” Payment depends on the size of the batteries but scrap dealers get paid $4,000—$5,000 per metric tonne for their batteries.”
She said the bulk batteries which they purchase are loaded “into lined containers and the majority goes to South Korea.”
Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharath has expressed concern about a development on the financial landscape in the country which he fears may one day “grow to a Clico-like situation.”
Contributing to a debate on the Insurance Act in the Senate yesterday, Rambharath said, “As we fix the insurance industry today, we have in this country today something that has developed, this thing called crypto currency.”
He cautioned that the “same men who came selling insurance,” are now going around the country “asking people together in groups of 10 to fork out $8,500 per person for training, your eight to 10 coins valued at $500, and you would get eight per cent interest on a five thousand dollar investment.”
He noted that in March this year the Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission Hayden Gittens had something to say about crypto currency, “but he did not come down on one side,” speaking instead to benefits and risk. Rambharath expressed concern that “we are creating a problem and allowing a problem to fester that would one day grow into a Clico-like situation.”
Both cases, he said, “are driven by human beings desire for greed and the wish to take advantage of the vulnerable and most important at the root of CL Financial and Clico are an abysmal failure of the regulators to do what they were supposed to do,” as he again pointed to the men in “suits and bright lights.”
He said in all the discussion on the Clico and CL situation there had never been any real drilling down into the “men in the fancy suits selling the product knowing the inability of the insurer to pay,” the country, he said, had never focused on those who never disclosed the “difficulty Clico was experiencing in cash flow prejudicing its ability to pay.”
While the Parliament was seeking to pass what he described as “excellent legislation,” he was concerned that it was those outside who must administer and make it work.
The legislation makes provision for fines for directors. But the minister said the strength of the legislation “relies on the ability of the regulators to do what they are supposed to do.”
As he had done once before he again raised concerns about the 2017 report of the Financial Intelligence Unit which attributed $7 billion worth of suspicious transactions to insurance companies and which made the observation that insurance companies were increasingly being used for money laundering.
The Government keeps getting letters from other Governments calling on the State to use T&T taxpayers’ funds to help Clico policyholders in other territories who suffered due to Clico’s 2009 collapse, Finance Minister Colm Imbert revealed yesterday.
Imbert noted the problem yesterday in the Senate when he piloted a bill to repeal and replace insurance legislation. It will regulate insurance businesses and privately administered pension funds
The Bill’s 282 clauses seek to increase policyholder protection.
Among the clauses the bill proposes are standards of market, conduct for insurers/sales people in dealing with the public. It also gives the regulator of the sector the power to revoke an insurer’s registration where claims practices are found to be unfair or there are unreasonable delays in settlement.
Citing a host of inadequacies in current law, Imbert said, “Even with the 2009 CL Financial/ Clico crisis of 2009, our insurance sector is still being governed by woefully deficient legislation which dates back to 1980 and which cannot address adequately the current emerging risks in today’s insurance sector.”
“The financial sector is only as strong as the weakest link. It’s instructive for T&T to learn from its own costly crisis and enact appropriate legislation for the insurance industry,” Imbert said the assets of the insurance industry totalled $49.4 billion at September 2017 and accounts for approximately 33 percent of GDP.
“Assets under management for the pensions sector total $51.4 billion and accounts for 34 percent of GDP,” he said. “The combined assets of the insurance and pensions sector are of the order of $100 billion dollars of which more than one third is invested in securities of Government,”
Before the 2009 Clico debacle, Imbert noted a 2005 IMF report had forewarned about the risks posed by the rapid structural changes in T&T’s financial system and shortcomings of local legislative/regulatory framework.
On issues such as those arising in foreign territories from the Clico debacle, the bill proposes insurance companies doing business through overseas branches, will be required to maintain/hold adequate assets to support their liabilities to foreign policyholders.
Clauses also allow the Central Bank Regulator oversight over overseas subsidiaries. This removed the need for undue reliance on the regulators of other jurisdictions who may not have the ability, due to resource constraints or otherwise, to deal with these operations effectively.
Imbert particularly thanked Opposition and Independent senators including UNC’s Gerald Ramdeen for “a very supportive collaborative, co-operative” committee scrutiny of the bill.
• Stemming excessive risk taking, promoting good governance and sound risk/capital management practices by management/boards of regulated entities.
• CEOs and CFOs must now sign a statement acknowledging the board of directors’ and management’s responsibility for (a) preparing financial statements, (b) maintaining adequate internal controls, (c) establishing and maintaining adequate procedures for the settlement of claims, and (d) complying with prudential criteria Regulations and Guidelines issued by the Central Bank.
• Mandatory Audit Committee.
• Restrictions on an insurer in respect of the credit exposures it can, directly/indirectly, incur to anyone/group
• Insurers’ Board must ensure policies /procedures established for transactions with connected parties/employees.
• Owners/shareholders must have a stake in the outcome Insurance companies and financial holding companies will be required to hold adequate capital and adequate and appropriate forms of liquidity.
• Expansion of tools for preventative /prompt corrective action and intervention triggers by Central Bank.
• Deterrent for breaches via a regime of improved fines/penalties.
• Provisions for restructuring of business groups that engage in financial/non-financial activities and would require the formation of a financial holding company to hold exclusively the regulated financial entities in the group.
• Powers of the Regulator to deal with the re-emergence of systemically important conglomerates in the region.
CCTV footage and eyewitness accounts over the past three days have led to the arrest of a suspect in the shooting of Scotiabank employee Roston Mahabir.
Mahabir, 28, of Carapichaima, remained warded at the San Fernando General Hospital yesterday following surgery on Tuesday to remove a bullet from his abdomen.
Confirming the arrest yesterday, Snr Supt Zamsheed Mohammed said investigators conducted surveillance work following the shooting and located the suspect.
An operation was coordinated with South Western Division police and around 2.30 pm the man was arrested at a house in Fyzabad. He was expected to be transferred to the San Fernando CID for questioning last evening.
A report stated that around 8 am Monday, Mahabir, a premiere relationship officer, was just about to enter the bank at the corner of Penitence and High Streets, San Fernando, when he was approached by a man who grabbed his computer bag and other items. Mahabir held on to his bag and was shot once in the abdomen.
The gunman then ran off with the bag, leaving him bleeding on the ground.
Investigators attempted to obtain a statement from Mahabir yesterday but were unable to as he was still sedated.
The firing of University of T&T (UTT) academic staff continued yesterday, as close to 30 more of them were given retrenchment letters at the various campuses, including O’Meara, Valsayn Teachers’ College, John Donaldson and Point Lisas.
And management is next, with as four vice presidents and about 20 managers identified, deputy chairman and acting chairman of the board of governors, Clement Imbert, said during a media conference yesterday.
Imbert said in the first phase, 59 retrenchment letters have been prepared, 30 of which were given out last week Friday, including 11 lecturers from the Centre of Education Programme (CEP). The remaining letters in the first batch were sent out yesterday.
Yesterday’s letters were supposed to have been sent out on Monday, but the board halted the process after Minister of Education Anthony Garcia said he was going to raise the issue at Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.
After Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, Garcia, in a release, said UTT had been instructed to explain to the public the process that was undertaken to arrive at the decision to dismiss staff.
In his explanation yesterday, Imbert said academics, which is the core of the university, had to be looked at first.
“UTT embarked on an audit of the workload of the academic staff, which revealed a relatively low student to staff ratio. In other words, the university could deliver international quality education with fewer academics,” he said.
He said the criteria for separation of lecturers in academics were based on the adoption of a Staff Loading Model, whereby the teaching load, research and community service were taken into consideration to ensure that staff were fully occupied with an equitable distribution of academic duties.
“UTT’s new structure will see a reduction in the top management from seven VPs to three and 56 managers to about 33 to 36,” Imbert said.
“UTT has taken other restructuring measures…it has eliminated certain programmes, merged certain programmes and will be looking at all programmes, campuses and systems in its restructuring exercise and the strategic direction for the future.”
Imbert further explained that there were over 400 academic staff and after looking at all the programmes and staff, it was found about a quarter “we could do without.”
“Where we saw we had surplus, we said fine. First, we did a numbers game, look at programmes and speak to programme leaders to ensure that the programmes could survive,” Imbert said.
But speaking at the press conference, which was held at UTT’s NAPA campus, one the dismissed CEP staffers, Solomon Ragnathsingh, who lectures in Math Specialisation, claimed they were told by their programme leader that the Staff Loading Model was not applied to them. He questioned Imbert on what criteria was used for the CEP. Imbert said he was not sure.
A UTT student, who is in the Indian Classical course, told Imbert there were two instructors for Kathak and Odissey and since the teacher for Odissey was sent home that style of dance cannot be taught by the Kathak instructor.
“Must I think that I only have Kathak alone because my Kathak teacher cannot do Odissey and in addition, to which, she teaches four other courses?” the student said.
In response, Imbert said he “will have to investigate.”
Shelly-Ann Anganoo is serving a sentence for killing a teacher outside of school when she was 18 years old, but yesterday she returned to school to urge pupils to choose peace instead of violence.
Anganoo was one of several speakers who participated in the Central Division’s Student Empowerment Caravan at the Couva West Secondary school.
Giving a heartfelt testimony, Anganoo recalled how she never listened to her mother and how she went into a life of crime because she was trying to fit in. “I was not smart enough to say no. I was skipping school, smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. At the age of 18, I was sent to prison for murder. I could have been sentenced to hang,” she said.
Instead of the death sentence, Anganoo said she was given a second chance and she used her time in prison to write and pass eight CXC subjects and three A Levels.
Anganoo was sentenced to 20 years hard labour for the murder of school teacher Ralphy Ramcharan on March 25, 2003, at Barataria. She was not a pupil at the time and had met Ramcharan at a bar.
Also speaking at the function was Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy Monica Morse, who urged pupils to stop bullying.
“As a child my dad attempted suicide and I became a target. Later I married a man who bullied me, but I found a way to break the cycle. I was a victim but now I am a survivor! I am a champion,” Morse said to loud applause.
She said she managed to break the cycle by developing self respect and respect for others.
“I found self love and so I developed self respect. I also developed respect for others. Tearing people down is never a good thing,” Morse said. Central Division ACP Patsy Joseph also urged the pupils to stay on the right side of the law, while sensei Marva John Logan said sports can be used as a positive alternative to delinquency and violence. Former pupil Leandra Ramdeen told the pupils she faced good and bad times at the school but engaging in sports helped her to deal with her frustration.
Supt of Prisons at the Youth Training Centre, Germaine De Graff, also advised the pupils to choose peace over violence, saying many youths were now forced to spend their life behind bars because they got caught up with bad company.
Mason Ramjassingh, an inmate at the YTC, said he has regretted his life’s choices which landed him in prison. However, he said he hoped by sharing his experiences he could help others make better choices.
Principal Fay Rasheed Persad said safety in schools was of utmost importance. She thanked the Central Division police and the other agencies for speaking to the pupils.
Declaring zero tolerance on corporal punishment, Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis yesterday reminded all teachers in the nation’s schools that it is illegal to physically punish students.
His comments came a day after a Penal grandmother complained that her grandchildren were struck by their teachers in separate instances for dropping a book on the floor and for going to the washroom without permission.
In an interview with the T&T Guardian, Francis said the ministry’s position on corporal punishment was clear.
“The ministry does not condone corporal punishment and teachers know that it is against the law to hit students,” he said.
Francis, who spent most of his years in academic teaching, said he also never believed in administering corporal punishment.
“There comes a time when the child becomes unconcerned about being hit. It does not work except to harm the child. There are other ways you can discipline a student,” Francis said.
“My experience is you empower the child and build a relationship with them. You motivate them to do what is right and if you are successful in empowering them, they will do what is right.”
He added that rebellious children are not necessarily a bad thing.
“Students should ask questions and challenge their teachers intellectually. It is how the teacher reacts to this challenge is what is important,” Francis said.
He noted that he did not have any information about the incident at the Penal school but noted that the matter is now under investigation.
Francis also said the ministry’s Student Support Services will provide counselling to the pupils if needed.
Meanwhile, the children’s grandmother said yesterday that a schools supervisor contacted her yesterday and requested that she file an official report about the incident to the ministry on Monday. She said the official also advised her against going to the principal for a meeting.
The grandmother said she was relieved that the ministry was investigating the complaint, adding that it was not the first time that a teacher had beaten students. She said the children were being physically disciplined for no good reason adding, “it is time that teachers realise hitting students is against the law.”
On Wednesday, the woman’s nine-year-old granddaughter told studentsher that she needed to use the washroom and her teacher was not in class, so she went because it was an emergency. When she returned, however, the teacher struck her on the hand and said she was not to leave without his permission. The grandmother said a year ago the same teacher also forced the child to stay back after school, causing her to miss the bus and having to walk home afterwards. The grandmother accused the teacher of putting her child’s life in danger by letting her walk home.
The issue was also raised in Parliament yesterday, where Government Senate Leader Franklin Khan told UNC’s Wade Mark the incident was being investigated, “following which (probe), appropriate follow-up action will be taken if necessary.”
MORE ABOUT CORPORAL PUNISHMENT
In February 2001, the then Education Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar pioneered legislation which led to a ban on corporal punishment in schools.
The National School Code of Conduct (2009) of the Ministry of Education states that corporal punishment should not be used.
According to the United Global Initiative: “Corporal punishment of children breaches their fundamental human rights to respect for human dignity and physical integrity. Its legality in almost every state worldwide—in contrast to other forms of inter-personal violence—challenges the universal right to equal protection under the law.”
Article 4 of the Children Act 2012 also confirms the right of parents, teachers and other persons having lawful control of a child or young person under the age of 16 years to administer “reasonable punishment,” but excludes corporal punishment from this only for persons other than parents or guardians.
Come and pick up your son. He is sleeping and he can’t wake up.
This was the message given to the father of 28-year-old Uber driver Christopher Mohammed hours before his body was found by police after an apparent carjacking on Thursday.
Speaking with reporters at the Forensic Science Centre in St James yesterday, Mohammed’s father Kayam said he received the sinister cryptic response from a woman who answered his son’s phone after he went missing for several hours. Kayam explained that the last time he saw his son alive was when he left their Arima home that morning to go to work.
Mohammed, a deckhand and chef with an offshore drilling company, worked part-time as an Uber driver.
Kayam said he and his wife became worried after their son failed to call or return home at his regular time. After several failed attempts to call him, the strange woman, who only identified herself as Anne, answered.
“She said to come and get your son and that he sleeping and can’t wake up,” his emotional father said.
“I tell her madam, just give me directions to come and pick up my son. She said when you reach St James call me and I would give you the directions,” he added.
He said he followed the instructions and the woman gave him directions to a location at Bournes Road in St James. While on the way, he stopped when he saw a large group of people surrounding an empty lot along Mucurapo Road. He had no idea that police had just found his son’s body.
An autopsy performed at the centre showed Christopher died from several gunshot wounds. His car was found abandoned in Blue Basin, Diego Martin, yesterday morning and was impounded by investigators for forensic analysis.
In addition to attempting to trace the caller through the phone’s GPS system, homicide detectives also contacted the United States (US) transport network company Uber Technologies Inc for information which could be used to piece together the incident.
Police sources said the company may be able to provide information on Mohammed’s last trip and the customer who utilised the service, in order to determine if he was lured to his death using the popular application or if it was a random carjacking.
In a press release issued yesterday afternoon, the San Francisco-based company said it had already established contact with investigators.
“We are proactively communicating with the authorities to provide them with any information they need,” Uber spokesperson Julie Robinson said.
“At Uber, we are heartbroken by the tragic loss of Uber driver, Christopher Mohammed. We offer our deepest condolences and prayers to his family during this difficult time.”
Mohammed’s father said his son had worked intermittently with the company since it launched in T&T last January. Mohammed stopped for a while and only resumed after he purchased the vehicle last month.
He said Mohammed had not gotten around to installing a GPS security system in the car.
He said his son was an avid footballer and would try to play every afternoon after work.
“After work, he would just come home and go and play football with his cousin and two friends. He used to play football every evening since he was in Hillview College,” he said.
Mohammed is the second past pupil of the school to be the victim of a violent crime this week. On Monday, Scotiabank employee Rostan Mahabir was shot during a robbery in front of his workplace in San Fernando. He survived but remains warded in a stable condition. (See Page A5)
Past students took to an alumni Facebook page yesterday to express shock over the incident and send condolences to his family.
“So brothers. We need to do something to raise awareness, get people into self-defence etc. Any ideas welcomed. It’s about time we look out for one another. RIP Christopher Mohammed,” one user posted.
Detectives of the Region One Homicide Bureau are continuing investigations.
Established in California in 2009, Uber now operates in 633 cities worldwide. The technology platform connects drivers, who are independent contractors, with riders.
After a rider makes a request, they have to wait for it to be accepted by a nearby driver. It gives you an estimate of the time the driver would take to reach your location as well as alerts the user as they are about to arrive.
It also provides a user with information on the driver including name, vehicle type, license plate number, with photographs of the driver and their vehicle.
The service is completed after the rider exits the vehicle at their final destination.
It is a cashless system, with the fare being automatically calculated and charged to the payment method linked to their Uber
Police are investigating whether a wrong turn into a community rife with gang violence led to the murder of a 49-year-old coconut wholesaler on Thursday night.
According to reports, shortly before midnight Ramesh Ramoutar and his 31-year-old friend Kerron Rampersad, both of Farm Road, St Joseph, went to meet a friend at a liquor mart at Richard Lane, Cunupia, but got lost and took a wrong turn into Howard Drive, a narrow dead-end road.
As Rampersad was attempting to reverse, however, they were ambushed by a group of gunmen who shot at the car before running away.
Rampersad, who was shot once in his left leg and grazed on his arm, still managed to manoeuvre out of the road and drive to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope.
Ramoutar, who sustained several gunshot injuries, was pronounced dead on arrival. Rampersad was treated and later gave an account of the incident to police when they arrived at the hospital yesterday. The vehicle was impounded for ballistic testing.
When a news team from the T&T Guardian visited Ramoutar’s community yesterday evening, his friends and relatives had already gathered for his wake.
They suggested that Ramoutar was attacked by the gang members because they mistook him for a member of the rival Rasta City gang, based on his hairstyle.
“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time but he was a good boy,” one man said.
“Somebody pick him up to go with him to check his girlfriend and I don’t know where they went for this tragedy to happen,” another said.
They also described his death as a major loss for the community.
“He was one of the few persons in Bangladesh that a youth could come to and get a juice or a hot dog,” he said.
However, homicide detectives are also exploring the possibility that the men went to the area to engage in a drug deal that went sour. A concrete motive for the incident is yet to be established.
Ramoutar’s killing raised the murder toll for the year to 206. He was the second businessman working in the coconut industry to be murdered this month, although both incidents are not connected.
On May 2, Narendra Sahadeosingh, of Syne Village, Penal, was murdered while plying his trade in Debe. Sahadeosingh and a worker were offloading his truck when a car drove by and the occupants shot at them. Sahadeosingh was killed but the 17-year-old worker survived.
Investigations are continuing into both incidents.
Declaring zero tolerance on corporal punishment, Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis is reminding all teachers in the nation's schools that it is illegal to physically punish students.
His comments came a day after a Penal grandmother complained that her grandchildren were struck by their teachers in separate instances for dropping a book on the floor and for going to the wash-room without permission.
In an interview, Francis said the Ministry's position was clear.
"The Ministry does not condone corporal punishment and teachers know that it is against the law to hit students. Francis, who spent most of his years in academic teaching said he never believed in administering corporal punishment.
"There comes a time when the child becomes unconcerned about being hit. It does not work except to harm the child. There are other ways you can discipline a student. My experience is you empower the child and build a relationship with them. You motivate them to do what is right and if you are successful in empowering them, they will do what is right," Francis said. He added that rebellious children is not necessary a bad thing.
"Students should ask questions and challenge their teachers intellectually. It is how the teacher reacts to this challenge is what is important," Francis said.
He noted that he did not have any information about the incident at the Penal school but noted that the matter is now under investigation.
Francis also said that the Student Support Services will provide counselling to the pupils if needed.
Meanwhile, the grandmother said a schools supervisor contacted her yesterday and requested that she file an official report about the incident to the Ministry of Education on Monday. She said the official advised her against going to the principal for a meeting. The grandmother said she was relieved that the Ministry was investigating the complaint adding that it was not the first time that a teacher had beaten students.
She said the children were being physically disciplined for no good reason adding, "it is time that teachers realize hitting students is against the law."
On Wednesday, a nine-year-old girl told her grandmother that she needed to use the washroom and her teacher was not in class so she went because it was an emergency. When she returned the teacher struck her on the hand and said she was not to leave without his permission.
The grandmother said a year ago, the teacher forced the child to stay back after school causing her to miss the bus. The child was forced to walk home afterward. The grandmother accused the teacher of putting her child's life in danger by letting her walk home.
MORE ABOUT CORPORAL PUNISHMENT
In February of 2001, the then Education Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar pioneered legislation which led to a ban on corporal punishment in schools. The National School Code of Conduct (2009) of the Ministry of Education states that corporal punishment should not be used. According to the United Global Initiative: “Corporal punishment of children breaches their fundamental human rights to respect for human dignity and physical integrity. Its legality in almost every state worldwide—in contrast to other forms of inter-personal violence—challenges the universal right to equal protection under the law.”
Article 4 of the Children Act 2012 confirms the right of parents, teachers and other persons having lawful control of a child or young person under the age of 16 years to administer “reasonable punishment” but excludes corporal punishment from this only for persons other than parents or guardians.
ASJA San Fernando Primary School was crowned 2018 champions in the Victoria District of the Atlantic National Primary Schools cricket tournament on Tuesday.
Skipper Riyaad Mohammed displayed a fine all-round performance which led his school to a comfortable victory over Picton Presbyterian. Batting first, San Fernando ASJA made 164 for the loss of eight wickets with Mohammed leading the way with a stylish 68. He then returned with the ball to grab five wickets for 14 runs, as Picton Presbyterian folded for just 58 runs losing by a whopping 106 runs.
Mohammed, who played for South in the Maq North South Under-15 Classic last week, showed that he was a cut above the rest, as he dominated from the word go. Immediately after taking strike he sent balls to the boundary with regularity as he took charge and his team-mates followed. Mohammed then grabbed the ball to dismantle the top order of Picton, and after that, victory was a mere formality, as he sent back five men for just 14 runs.
The left-handed batsman and right-arm medium pacer has already caught the eyes of the South Zone selectors and earlier this year he was chosen for the South Zone U-15 team in the Shell tournament. He is currently in training with the South Zone U-13 team as well, as they are preparing for the Shell Interzone.
ATLANTIC CRICKET SCORES
Victoria Boys finals
San Fernando ASJA 164 for 8 (Riyaad Mohammed 68) vs Picton Presbyterian 58 all out (Riyaad Mohammed 5/14). ASJA won the game by 106 runs with the man of the match being Riyaad Mohammed.
Two shots behind on the first day did not deter Omesh Dinnanath as he shot a level par 71 last Sunday, to outshine a stellar field of golfers and in the process he became the winner of the Championship Flight of the Millennium Lakes Open.
Sporting legends Brian Lara and Russell Latapy also competed as they were pitted in the premier division with national players Wayne Baptiste, Dave Rajkumar, Neil Lutchmansingh, Richard “Pecos” Camacho, Barbados national standout Iz Hustler, promising young players Ross Cabral and Chris Richards Jnr and Millennium Lakes club champion Felix Zamudio.
Latapy was the leader at the end of the first day with a score of one over par 72. Dinnanath, who was two shots behind after Saturday, came back with great determination on Sunday defying windy conditions to win by nine shots over Rajkumar, who climbed into second place with 76 and 78 over the two days. Wayne Baptiste copped the net prize with a total of 148.
The Professional division was won by Chris Richards with 77 and 73, with Jessel Mohammed second with 76/75 and Joshua Galt third with 84/80.
The juniors dominated the Ladies Division with Serena MacKenzie emerging champion with a two day total of 157 and Sarah Ramphal second with 162. Popular veteran Violet Roopchand was the net winner with a total of 150.
The action was also keen in the Super Seniors division as Kissoon Gannes staged a remarkable comeback after being six shots down to overcome former Canadian professional Sonny Mohammed by a single shot. Gannes shot 77/72 and Mohammed recorded 71/79. The net winner was Shabir Khan with a seven under par score of 135.
At the end of another professionally run tournament by the folks at Millenium Golf and Country Club, Golf Administrator Lauren Lara indicated that a total of 90 golfers were on show. They were able to gain ranking points in an effort to make the various national teams. She also thanked the sponsors of the event Rock Hard Cement and Amrals Tours & Travel the major sponsor, as well as Gold Kingdom Jewellery, Nestle, Premier Malls, Caribbean Bottlers, Scaffolding Manufacturers, Vayberri on the Greens, JZ Energy, SM Jaleel, Carib Brewery, Golden Key Real Estate, Better Graphics and Angostura as well as the staff at the golf club, the volunteers and players.
OTHER DIVISION WINNERS
• Flight–Champion–Rodney Phillip - 163
• Place–Steve Durgadeen–168 Net winner–Kumar Ramcharan–148
• Flight–Champion–Bill Ramrattan–164
• Place–Kumar Boodramr–170 Net winner–Ken Pollard–143
• Flight–Champion–Charles Sookhan–80 pts
• Place–John Chin Yuen Kee–73 pts
• Place–Pooran Singh–70 pts.
Out-of-favour T&T midfielder Atualla Guerra was among the goals again as Charleston Battery defeated Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday in their Eastern Conference United Soccer League clash.
Guerra opened the scoring a minute before the half-time interval with his fifth item of the campaign and second in successive matches for a 1-0 lead.
His teammate Gordon Wild doubled the advantage in the 53rd before Derrick Jones scored from the penalty-spot in the 65th minute to give Steel hope at the MUSC Health Stadium, Charleston, South Carolina.
The 30-year-old Guerra was eventually replaced in the Ian Svantesson in the 75th minute while fellow T&T defender Neveal Hackshaw played the full 90 minutes on the left side of a three-man Battery defence which managed to hold out for the win.
The win lifted the Battery to second on the 16-team table with 17 points from nine matches, the same as leaders FC Cincinnati and one more than defending champions Louisville City FC and Pittsburg Riverhounds, which both have a match in hand.
Cato leads Independence to a big win
T&T winger Cordell Cato also was among the goals in Charlotte Independence’s 4-1 thrashing of FC Cincinnati at Matthews Sportsplex, Matthews, North Carolina.
Cato, formerly of US Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes netted in the 38th minute for his third of the season and first since a double on March 17 versus Ottawa Fury.
Yann Ekra made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time for the winners, now with 11 points from eight matches and tenth on the table.
Cincinnati which had England-born T&T defender Justin Hoyte in its line-up cut the lead in half in the 51st through Danni Koenig, but Kay Voser (57th) and Eamon Zayed (87th) netted second-half items to seal the win for Independence.
On Friday, Nathan Lewis and Carlyle Mitchell featured for fifth-placed Indy Eleven (14 points from eight matches) in a 0-0 draw at Pittsburg Riverhounds while Canada-born T&T goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh was beaten twice in defending champions, Louisville City FC 2-0 loss at Nashville SC on Sunday.
Garcia on the mark
In an international club friendly, Dutch-based winger Levi Garcia scored a 22nd minute item for his loan club, Excelsior which recorded a 9-0 blow-out of VV Hillergersberg on Wednesday at Sportapark Duivenpad, Rotterdam, Holland.
Garcia moved to Excelsior in the January winter transfer-window from AZ Alkmaar and helped the club to 11th spot with 40 points from 34 matches, while Alkmaar ended third on the 18-team table with 71 points, and a spot in next season’s Europa League competition along with fourth-placed Feyenoord.
The 20-year-old had struggled to get any playing time in the Eredivisie this season at Alkmaar and with Oussama Idrissi’s arrival from Groningen, AZ decided to send the winger on loan to Excelsior.
T&T Pro League club, Central FC failed in its third and final attempt to qualify for 2018 Concacaf League after falling to Martiniquan Club Franciscain 2-1 in the team’s play-off encounter in Kingston, Jamaica, on Wednesday night.
Central FC, Caribbean Football Union Club champions of 2015 and 2016, and fourth-placed finishers of 2017 which earned them a place at last season’s inaugural Concacaf League for Central American and Caribbean teams, took the lead for the second straight match in the 15th minute courtesy former T&T World Cup striker, Anthony Wolfe who beat goalkeeper Didier Sully from a tight angle on the left after Tyrone Charles towered in the French islanders’ box to head on a Duane Muckette free-kick to the veteran-attacker-turned-defender.
However, in the 26th minute, Djenhael Mainge latched onto captain Stephane Abaul’s diagonal feed into the box before hitting low past the T&T custodian Marvin Phillip to get two-time reigning Martinique champions level.
And on the stroke of half-time, a lapse in concentration by Wolfe allowed Johnny Marajo a free move in the Central box which the Franciscain midfielder made full use of by curling his effort past Phillip for a 2-1 lead after he had rocked the crossbar earlier in the contest.
It was the third loss from as many matches at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex, in Jamaica for the former two-time Caribbean Football Union Club champions, Central FC which first went under to Jamaica’s Arnett Gardens 2-0 in their Concacaf League qualifying semifinals on Friday last and then 2-1 in their third-place play-off to another Jamaica outfit, Portmore United on Sunday with Duane Muckette scoring an early goal for the T&T club.
To their credit, the Stern John-coached Central FC was able to put up some spirited performances over the three matches even though the local Pro League season doesn’t kick off until June 1 while Arnett Gardens and Portmore United, both qualified to the second-tier of the Concacaf League as second and third placed finishers were both at the end of their 2017/2018 Jamaican domestic Premier League competitions.
However, Central FC was still expected to qualify to the Concacaf League with a victory against the Martiniquans, who qualified to the play-off as the winner of a second-tier qualifying competition, the Caribbean Cup Shield
Dominican Republic’s Atletico Pantoja defeated Arnett Gardens 6-5 on penalty-kicks in the Flow Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship final after a goalless deadlock to claim the title and will compete in the top flight of the Concacaf League against the top teams from USA, Mexico, Costa Rica and the other major Central American nations.
For their win, Atletico Club Pantoja earned themselves U$50,000 while Arnett Gardens got $30,000 and Portmore and Central FC, both US$15,000.
In the second-tier final which was played on April 21, the Caribbean Cup Shield, Club Franciscain battled past Suriname’s Inter Moengotapoe 2-1.
This after the Martinquans defeated Real Rincon 2-0 and Moengotapoe hammered Nacional 4-0 in their respective semifinals on April 19. Real Rincon grabbed third with a 3-1 win over Nacional.
Central FC, owned by former T&T World Cup defender and Minister of Sports, Brent Sancho was awarded the Fair Play trophy at the end of the first stage of the competition on Sunday, while the Golden Glove Award went controversially to Pantoja’s goalkeeper Odalis Baez who conceded three goals in the semifinal compared to Damian Hyatt of Arnett Gardens who kept a clean sheet in both games.
The Golden Boot went to Luis Espinal of Pantoja, who scored twice against Portmore United in the semifinal.
Frustrated by not being accepted into the T&T Super League, a few clubs are now holding discussions to form a renegade Community Football League that is expected to rival the T&T Super League (TTSL).
Gordon Pierre of Petit Valley Diego Martin United, Gregory Mc Sween of Harlem Strikers and Steve Fredericks of Real Maracas are among those taking steps to ensure the League gets going and the communities are well served.
Fredericks, the Real Maracas assistant coach, said they are already in talks with a few interested sponsors.
The League he said, will not be about winning but rather bringing communities together and ensuring that young people are given something to do, instead of engaging in crime. Fredericks also believes their league will receive the support from the parent T&T Football Association as it will have a similar mandate to build a nation through football.
He is now hoping that government sees the League as a worthwhile venture and lend a helping hand. The League is tentatively set for kick-off in July and interested clubs are being asked to pay a registration fee of $15,000 which will go towards prizes, payment of referees and running the tournament. Pierre, whose Petit Valley Diego Martin United is into the 13-team super league this year, said the League will be run on a home and away format and each game will be treated as a major community-building exercise that will include entertainment from soca artists and other.
The biggest challenge for the clubs currently is getting someone to properly manage its affairs. Tony Harford, who previously managed then National Super League in the past, turned down the job due to a previous engagement, Pierre said.
Ten clubs, WASA, Real Maracas, Defence Force, Harlem Strikers, Perseverance United, 1976 Phoenix, Youth Stars, Marabella Family Crisis Centre, Edinburgh 500 Spartans and Siparia Spurs, which participated in the Super League last year, were dumped out of the competition for failing to pay the registration fee of $45, 000 on time.
Some of the clubs have already agreed to return to their Regional Associations, while others are throwing support toward the community league. It is unsure whether the League will continue beyond this season after the TTSL gave an assurance to omitted clubs that they will regain entry in 2019 once requirements are met.
Eastern Football Association (EFA) president Linus Sanchez said they have extended the deadline for registration to July to accommodate teams thrown out of the TTSL.
However, he made it clear the teams must meet the requirement of paying a $1,500 membership fee and $3,500 to register.
Clynt Taylor, the Central Football Association general secretary also admitted the CFA will accept teams dumped out of the TTSL, back for the 2018 season.
Terrence Boissiere, the Marabella FCC manager has said he will return to the Southern FA.
ST JOHN’S ANTIGUA—Chairman of West Indies selectors, Courtney Browne, believes the regional women’s side is good enough to defend its title and win the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup for a second time.
Browne made this assertion as the players continued their preparation camp in Antigua for the global event, to be played in the Caribbean from November 2-25.
Several key players, including talismanic skipper Stafanie Taylor, ace spinner Anisa Mohammed, along with opener Hayley Matthews and wicketkeeper Merissa Aguilleira, will be together for six months in the build-up to the tournament.
The official tournament matches will be played at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua, Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia and the National Stadium at Providence in Guyana.
Under the captaincy of the dynamic Stafanie Taylor, the Windies won the last T20 World Cup in India two years ago, to lift their first major international title.
The triumph came on the same day the men’s team, under Sammy, won the corresponding title. “We have a great team here preparing and I know they will do very well,” Browne said.
“There’s a bit of time to go before the tournament, and it’s an example, forward-thinking idea from Cricket West Indies to get them into camp and get the preparation right. We want to peak at the right time and that time will be in November.”
He continued: “On any given day, any team can win. We have to do the right things and prepare the team properly and thoroughly to ensure we get the right amount of work to improve our skill and our overall preparation.
“It is an important year for women’s cricket. We didn’t have a good year last year. We had a few good moments and a good series (at home against Sri Lanka).”
Browne said women’s cricket was on a rapid rise globally and this year’s world event should provide a true reflection of the quality of play.
He added that the upcoming Cricket West Indies T20 Blaze and Super50 tournaments in Jamaica in June would give the Windies selectors a further gauge of regional talent.
“This camp is critical. We want to start to look like the team that won last World T20,” Browne pointed out.
“We will be defending that title here in the Caribbean and our women will be quite familiar with the conditions. The things we all have to be mindful of is that women’s cricket across the world has really become consistent and we are seeing a much-improved brand of cricket, so we have to keep pace and remain among the top teams.
“The tournament in Jamaica is another key tournament. We are looking to draw from the regional tournament. We expect all players to showcase their talent and put themselves in line for selection for the second portion of the camp and the world tournament.” (CMC)