You are here

News

Subscribe to News feed
Updated: 1 hour 11 min ago

Two friends killed after leaving wake of murder victim

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 04:17

Two friends were gunned down in Arouca on Tuesday night minutes after leaving the wake of a man who was gunned down hours earlier. According to a police report, at about 9 pm Anderson Forbes, 27 and Anderson James, 32, were seated in a Nissan Tiida, at Phase 3, Bon Air Gardens when a gunman opened fire.

Both men were taken to hospital where they later died. The gunman escaped.

Forbes lived at Siskin Drive, Kiskadee Crescent, Bon Air Gardens and James was from Kiskadee Crescent.

Speaking with Guardian Media yesterday at Forensic Science Centre, relatives said that they believe that the murders, in which the three friends were killed, were linked but added that they have no idea why. Police sources said that Ronald “Tek” McKie’s murder was believed to have been a reprisal for a murder, which took place in 2016.

However, McKie’s relatives have denied this saying that McKie was set up. McKie, 33, whom police described as a suspect in several robberies, was shot dead around m1 am on Tuesday while standing in the yard of a friend at Bon Air Gardens.

“These boys were all good friends and it is definitely somebody calling the shots because they wanted them dead…for why is what we don’t know and we would like to know. More importantly, we want justice and we are praying that no more friends are killed,” one relative said.

In a separate incident, the man, who was murdered on Monday while driving his car along Bagatelle in Diego Martin has been identified as Jarrelle Arismendez.

Arismendez, police said, had two addresses as Laventille and Belmont. Police said he used to ply his car for hire as a PH taxi and believed that his murder was drug-related.

On Monday, Arismendez was shot in the head and neck. His body was found slumped behind the steering wheel of his car along Cascade Drive, in an area known as the Pines. Investigations are continuing.

Categories: News

Minister steps in to help paraplegic

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 04:09

In response to paraplegic Stacy Ann Parris’ plight for help in finding a home, the Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn, visited Parris at her Woodbrook home on Monday, promising to assist in upgrading her living conditions.

Parris’ story of living under inhumane conditions and unemployment was highlighted in the Sunday Guardian.

The 39-year-old who lives alone in a dilapidated shack at the corner of Roberts and Gatacre Streets, in Woodbrook, had complained of HDC’s failure to respond to her several complaints over the years even though she sent photographs of the home attached to her letters.

Parris said all she got was a promise she would be placed on an ‘emergency’ list which was almost five years ago.

In a release, the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, said Crichlow-Cockburn visited Parris’ home after she read the article and committed to following up on Parris’ HDC application.

The release said in the interim, the Minister outlined the other support services available from the Ministry for which Parris may be eligible.

Parris receives a monthly disability grant of $1,800 as well as a food grant of $410 from the Ministry’s public assistance programme but has recently experienced some challenges with the latter.

The release said, “The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services remains committed to its responsibility of addressing the social challenges of poverty, social inequality and social exclusion.”

It added, “The Ministry’s key strategic objectives include promoting public awareness and providing advocacy and support for persons with disabilities, toward their increased participation and realisation of their full potential.”

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Parris described the Minister’s response as a blessing and said she felt a bit honoured and shocked at the same time that Crichlow-Cockburn would take the time to personally respond to her plight.

“Not many people get that kind of response. She was just so gracious and so nice. I have seen pictures of her before but to actually have her stand in my house was just so amazing. I am just thanking God for all the people who have come forward to help,” Parris said.

Parris told Guardian Media since her story had been published, there has been an overwhelming outpouring of love, concern and support from the general public.

Some of the donations to Parris came in the form of money, groceries and cleaning supplies. She said the money donated was enough to cover the $800 owed in rent, with some remaining.

Categories: News

Drug mule fined $33,000 for attempting to smuggle cocaine

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 04:06

A Diego Martin electrician who tried to transport cocaine which was concealed in soaked towels and T-shirts to England ten years ago has been fined $33,000.

Andrew Walters, 48, pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to export cocaine and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking in the Scarborough Magistrates Court.

The incident took place on December 14, 2008, at the then Crown Point International Airport in Tobago.

Giving a summary of the incident, Customs and Excise senior state attorney Harricharan Kassie said around 6 pm Cpl Patrick was on duty, along with Customs and Excise officer Glen Singh and other officers when they stopped Walters.

Upon searching Walter’s suitcase, the officers found two bath towels and two T-shirts hardened in a substance resembling cocaine. When told by the officers that they suspect the substance was cocaine, Walters said, “Boss, I really take a chance and pick up that by Channas to go England for $4,000 pounds.” The cocaine which was extracted by the materials weighed 681 grammes which had an estimated street value of $300,000.

In asking Magistrate Brian Debideen for leniency, attorney Ian Brooks said his client was remorseful, has five children and no previous convictions. Brooks also asked the magistrate to consider the age of the matter and that Walters had spent one year in custody.

Walters, he said, also helped the police with their investigations. Kassie, however, said the prosecution was not to blame for the delay in the matter because Walters had missed a court date and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

He said Walters was arrested three years later. Kassie noted that the offence was very serious and carried a penalty of a $50,000 minimum fine or three times the value of the goods or eight years in prison.

In passing sentence, the magistrate told Walters he could have been fined $900,000 but he took into consideration the mitigating factors and circumstances of the case.

Walters has to pay $5,000 by August 30 and the remainder by December 31, or serve four years in prison. He was reprimanded and discharged on the cocaine trafficking charge.

Categories: News

Erin farmers’ lives uprooted

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 22:57

More than 40 farmers have been left on the breadline after Tuesday’s 6.9 magnitude earthquake caused severe damage to acres of agricultural lands and destroyed almost $2 million in crops at Los Iros, Erin.

As a consequence, consumers have been warned to brace for a shortage of vegetables and a hike in prices as the farmers will be hard pressed to supply the food basket in South Trinidad.

About an hour after the earthquake there was massive earth movement in Erin, resulting in the formation of huge cracks of varying depths across a kilometre of Erin Los Iros Road and sinkage of some areas of 40 acres of agricultural land.

Some 20 irrigation ponds were destroyed, three stock houses were damaged and a plough and tractor fell into the cracks. Hundreds of thousands of crops, including hot pepper, tomato, ochro, bodi and eggplant, were buried in the dirt.

Pleading for urgent assistance yesterday, Los Iros Hill View Farmers Association president Rishi Ramraj said the land began moving about an hour after the earthquake.

“People were on the land and they started to run, luckily they knew the area and got out. Otherwise, they would have been buried in the dirt,” said Ramraj.

“The land break and crack open in plenty places about five to 20 feet deep in some places. The widest crack is about five feet. The food crop area is about 100 acres, so we not sure how if more areas affected.”

He said the farmers also could not plant on that land anytime soon.

“We need excavation and land preparation there,” he said, adding, “We need the Ministry of Agriculture to come and fix the road, fix the pond and prepare the land.”

Ramraj also asked for compensation for their losses.

“We need urgent assistance. We have instalments at the ADB, school opening just now, we have bills to pay,” lamented Ramraj, adding the caretakers and watchmen who reside in the stock houses have been forced to seek refuge elsewhere.

Ramraj said officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries visited the site and promised to give them feedback in a short time.

When contacted yesterday, Minister Clarence Rambharat said he was paying close attention to the situation because it was an important food producing area.

Noting that the area has had coastal erosion issues, the minister felt it was a combination of that and the earthquake which caused the land slippage and cracks. He said an engineering team visited the site yesterday and would be returning today.

With regards to compensation, he said he had not seen anything so far to indicate there was destruction of crops. Rambharat, however, said he intended to visit the area in the coming days to do his own assessment.

“Now is not the time to talk compensation. If we need to intervene. We will intervene and see where we go from there,” Rambharat, adding there were no other reports of destruction of agricultural lands due to the earthquake.

Categories: News

Be there for your loved ones: psychologist

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 22:54

When the 6.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday, pictures of the structural damage caused by the event were posted almost immediately online.

But what we don’t necessarily see following such disasters are the psychological effects they may have on survivors, Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychologists (TTAP) PRO Kelly Mc Farlane said yesterday.

Mc Farlane said the way to help people who were adversely affected mentally by the event was simply being there for them.

He said while generally speaking the T&T population was usually nonchalant about such events, there were others who were more affected from a mental health perspective.

“So you look at people who might be more on the neurotic side who tend to be more sensitive and more emotional and they may experience heightened anxiety, maybe some post traumatic stress, having some nightmares or questioning what if this happens again going into overdrive for preparing, that real anxiety where they might not want to leave home,” Mc Farlane said.

“Then I would consider children, because children who may not have been previously taught much about earthquakes on a serious level and something of that magnitude may get really, really scared.”

She said in helping loved ones overcome this sort of fear, loved ones were the “first line of support”.

“If you are the family member who is not as affected as the person having the nightmares and so on, reassure them that you will look out for things, maybe take shifts in sleeping just until the person settles down,” Mc Farlane said.

“Of course as with any other mental health symptom that you may see in a family member or friend, if it does not start to subside after a couple days seek professional help. So if you are the person suffering and really stressed out by this seek the support of your loved ones.”

Mc Farlane said parents and guardians could help children learn more about earthquakes and the preventative steps needed to be taken in order to help calm them down.

HOW TO SURVIVE AN EARTHQUAK

• Stay secure, do not panic but remain alert
• Do not run outside
• Stand in doorway or under sturdy desk or bed and hold on
• Do not use elevators and stairs
• Move away from heavy objects and glass
• If outside, stay away from glass buildings, utility poles and bridges in outside
If driving and an earthquake occurs
• Slow down until it’s safe to stop
• Stay in the vehicle unless you are on the shoulder and can exit safely
• Keep on your seatbelt
• Put on your hazard lights
In the event of an emergency call 999—this emergency number must dispatch police, fire, and ambulance.
Courtesy the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management and Arrive Alive TT

Categories: News

More police at public hubs to protect citizens, Young promises

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 22:52

Police security presence will be heightened in public hubs and other places following yesterday morning’s earthquake after-shock, National Security Minister Stuart Young has assured.

At yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing, Young said he was concerned about robberies at City Gate or similar places. This, following the robbery of a Guardian Media Ltd worker who was making her way home via City Gate on Tuesday evening around 6 pm. According to reports, she was among several people robbed at the same time at that location. Young said he would raise the matter with police, with suggestions on handling the matter in such areas with police presence.

Young said he had been doing a tour of the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca when the earthquake occurred on Tuesday. He noted a social media post of a prisoner’s video showing a crack in the prison wall, adding engineers will be examining the situation.

Outside of Police Headquarters yesterday morning, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith—in tactical uniform—spoke about plans on handling the post-quake situation. He later told T&T Guardian he planned to go on patrols last night.

Young said generally there had not been instances of untoward behaviour and police alerts would remain high. But he particularly slammed “fake news” that arose after Tuesday’s big earthquake. He said a number of voice notes, photos and memes had been circulated in a very irresponsible way.

“This is unacceptable and could have detrimental effects. In instances like (the earthquake) the country comes together—we are all our brother’s keeper. I denounce those intent on being destructive and doing this (fake news) at a time when people are anxious or nervous,” he added.

He cited photos by UNC activist Devant Maharaj of damage near the Roxy, St James. Deeming it unpatriotic, Young said the social media posts were irresponsible since they carried flippant statements.

Categories: News

Patients relocated

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 22:36

Tuesday’s 7.3 magnitude earthquake forced the Ministry of Health to move patients out of the Central Block of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital after it suffered minor damage.

The shifting of patients will allow the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) to undertake remedial works to damaged areas of the hospital, Udecott chairman Noel Garcia said yesterday.

Despite this, Garcia said engineers had found the building sound after an examination following Tuesday’s shake-up.

“What our engineers found was that the building is structurally safe. There was some cracking…there was a separation of the ramp between the operating theatre and the Central Block, there was some damage to the kitchen on the fourth floor,” Garcia said in a telephone interview, but noted the engineers had confirmed there was “no immediate danger” with the Central Block.

“We want to give some level of comfort and safety to the healthcare staff and public who were terrified and petrified because the building swayed and rocked with the violent earthquake. There was this prediction it would have collapsed.”

He said three structural reports were undertaken by PAHO, Aron Bush and Liam and Partners on the Central Block, which had outlined that there were structural deficiencies and warned that if a major earthquake had taken place the hospital would have collapsed.

But he said despite these reports the hospital remained standing with little damage.

He said going forward, Udecott proposed to do remedial works on the Central Block’s five floors.

The five-storey building was built in 1952 and houses 400 beds. Garcia could not say when works would begin, as Udecott’s engineers were coming up with its designs and scope of works.

“It should begin soon and it would not take very long. We are not talking millions of dollars in work, you know. It makes no sense throwing good money after bad. We are not going to do retrofitting works.”

Garcia said tenders for the Central Block had gone out, stating that three or four firms have signalled their intention to submit.

“They are in the process of designing because it is a design-build. We feel somewhere in late October early November we should award a contract to start construction of this Central Block,” Garcia said.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh also said while there is no emergency with the building, out of an abundance of caution and to protect the safety of employees and patients at the hospital “we are in fact moving some patients from the upper floors come down to other facilities within the health care system.”

Deyalsingh could not say how many patients would be shifted, as this responsibility lay in the hands of the chief medical officer in conjunction with the medical chief of staff.

“They will make those decisions as to who is to be moved and where they are to be moved.”

However, a Ministry of Health source said yesterday that approximately 100 patients were likely to be temporarily shifted to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope and the Caura Hospital in the interim. The source said some patients bolted from the hospital on Tuesday and yesterday when the earthquake and aftershock struck.

Operations throughout the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) will resume fully from today, the T&T Guardian was told.

Speaking yesterday, an NCRHA official, who wished not to be named, said as a result of the earthquake, they cancelled all clinics and re-directed all clinical staff to the Accident and Emergency Department at the Eric Williams Medical

Sciences Complex in Mount Hope.

“All non-essential staff at the Administrative Building were sent home, however, all inspections are done and normalcy will be returned tomorrow (today),” the NCRHA official said.

All out-patients who were scheduled for respective clinics yesterday and who were deemed to be priority or critical were asked to return as doctors on duty promised to “double up.”

Other out-patients were asked to also visit their respective clinics for the re-scheduling of their clinic dates.

—With reporting by Rhondor Dowlat

Categories: News

Duke under fire for panicking public servants

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 22:32

National Security Minister Stuart Young yesterday accused Public Services Association Watson Duke president of causing 80,000 public servants unnecessary panic and anxiety following Tuesday’s 6.9 magnitude earthquake.

Young’s comments came after Duke, in addressing scores of public servants on Richmond Street, urged them not to go to work, as many of the buildings they occupy were not structurally sound, citing the Ministry of National Security on the same street as one example.

“Every time an earthquake rocks it begins to shake the bolts that keep the building together. As of now, we finish working for the day. You just leave. Every employee has a right to remove his or herself from any building that is likely to compromise their life or health,” Duke told the workers.

Duke said he wants to see which minister, CIO or director will challenge his order. He also advised the workers not to return to the buildings until they are certified for occupation.

“The PSA will make it our business that you are not coerced, threatened or forced in any way to enter a building that is not stamped by a registered certified engineer.”

In an interview with the T&T Guardian, Duke, who represents 80,000 public servants, said of the 500 government buildings in T&T, “more than three-quarters of these buildings in this country have been compromised because we have poor building standards.”

But speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing, Young said his ministry was safe and Duke’s claim “is an instance of fear mongering. How does Mr Watson Duke know what screw is missing where?”

He said the Government has been examining its buildings.

“There are cracks that will appear… some will be surface level cracks. That is what the engineers are looking. For Mr Watson Duke to go and to try and cause some kind of unnecessary panic and unnecessary anxiety is wrong,” Young said, adding it would be irresponsible for the Government to ask any worker to enter an area that is unsafe.

Asked if action can be taken against anyone who spreads fake news or instils fear in society, Young said there was no specific legislation in place as yet to deal with this issue.

“There may be other pieces of legislation that exists, for example, that may cause people to panic etcetera …I am not 100 per cent certain. That would fall under the ambit of the T&T Police Service, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. At this stage, the Government is denouncing that type of behaviour.”

STRUCTURAL DAMAGE REPORTED SO FAR

Eleanor Street, Endeavour Road, Ragoo Road in Chaguanas
• McBean Road, Longdenville Road, Caratal Road in Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo
• Simeon Road, Sparrow Drive, Smith Hill in Carenage, Diego Martin
• Mora Heights in Mayaro/Rio Claro
• Laltoo Trace, Mahadeo Trace, Old Clarke Road, Penal Rock Road
• One Woodbrook Place, East Dry River, Romeo Street and 4th Avenue in St. James
• Lengua Village, and Malgretoute Village in Princes Town
• Knox Street and Coffee Street in San Fernando
• Barbanda Village in Sangre Grande
• El Socorro, Laventille, Mt. Hope Road and Irwin Street in Petit Bourg, Bagatelle Road Ext. in San Juan
• Los Iros in Siparia
• St. Augustine, Piarco.

REGIONAL CORPORATION HOTLINE NUMBER

Diego Martin 800-DMRC (3672)
San Juan/Laventille 800-SLRC (7572)
Arima Borough Corporation 800-2ABC (2222)
Tunapuna/Piarco 800-TPRC (8272)
Port-of-Spain 800-PSCC (7722)
Sangre Grande 800-SGRC (7472)
Chaguanas Borough Corporation 800-DCBC (3222)
Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo 800-CTTC (2882)
Mayaro/Rio Claro 800-4MRC (4672)
Princes Town 800-PTRC (7872)
Point Fortin Borough Corporation 800-PFBC (7322)
San Fernando 800-SCDU (7238)
Penal/Debe 800-PDRC (7372)
Siparia Regional 800-4SRC (4772)
EMERGENCY 999
ODPM 511
NATIONAL OPERATIONS CENTRE 623 5202 (24/7)

Categories: News

T&T remains on high alert

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 22:30

T&T’s high alert continues.

This following a magnitude 6 aftershock earthquake yesterday, damage reports from all over the country and more reports expected - but no injuries or fatalities, all in the wake of Tuesday’s huge earthquake that measured 6.9 on the Richter scale.

T&T’s Seismic Research Centre confirmed yesterday’s after-shock which occurred at 9.27 am. It was initially assessed at 5.9 but was later reassessed as 6. The epicentre was the same as Tuesday’s earthquake - the Gulf of Paria peninsula. The SRC stated the after-shock was felt up to St Vincent and Guyana at a depth of 80 kilometres. Investigations are ongoing to see if tremors were becoming shallower, which could pose more risk. (See page A7)

Yesterday’s after-shock sent workers in downtown Port-of-Spain scampering out of offices. Several business places and Government agencies later closed to assess the damage.

The Local Government Ministry, which collected reports of damage via the 14 municipal corporations, yesterday confirmed reports from over 30 locations - but no injuries or deaths. The ministry noted volcanic activity at the Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano in South Trinidad - but no eruption. Following yesterday’s aftershock, all corporations continued receiving reports of power outages and structural damage, the ministry added.

At yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing, Communication Minister Stuart Young said he expected more reports of damage between yesterday and tomorrow. Cabinet members felt yesterday’s after-shock during their meeting.

He added,”With these types of incidents, we expect some after-shocks. It’s impossible to scientifically predict what will happen next when after-shocks will occur, or if there’ll be a further earthquake. But the state’s apparatus and National Security arms are in place.”

Young said he’d received photos of damage to homes.

“We thank God at this stage there’s no report of fatality or serious injury. I hope it stays that way. We’re also thankful the situation didn’t warrant a call for a nationwide shutdown.”

Yesterday’s after-shock caused power outages at Pt Cumana and Westmoorings, near the earthquake’s epicentre. Power was restored by 11 am.

Udecott chairman Noel Garcia, whose engineers inspected various structures, said the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and Trinity Cathedral sustained serious structural damage.

“We’ve recommended they hire someone to do a dilapidation survey to ensure they’re safe. Tonight (Wednesday) we’re moving pieces of the structure at the Cathedral which are threatening to fall on the public and (on Thursday) we’ll move such pieces from Trinity. The repair costs will run into a big sum,” Garcia said.

Garcia said there was no major structural damage to the National Academy for the Performing Arts North (NAPA) or South (SAPA) facilities, the Waterfront Plaza or the Government Campus. Udecott also signed off on the Couva Hospital and Brian Lara Stadium as not sustaining structural damage. He said the Education Tower on St Vincent Street had only mortar damage (cracks to windows.) The Tower, which was closed yesterday, re-opens today after infrastructural assessment, repairs and cleaning.

Works Minister Rohan Sinanan said ministry teams had inspected over 35 Government buildings so far and found no serious structural damage. Road and bridge networks have also so far shown no damage, save for one South Trinidad road, he added.

Yesterday, repair crews were busy with several structures in downtown PoS, inspecting or securing parts of buildings that require repairs. A large jagged crack has split part of the front of the former Sports Ministry office on Abercromby Street. Personnel at Queen’s Park Cricket Club were also seen photographing hairline cracks there.

Young said while T&T lacks formal building codes, the structural integrity of buildings held up. However, he said Government will look at implementing building codes. Government buildings are built to the California (US) building codes, he noted.
Young urged high-rise building residents - and private landlords of state agencies - to get private engineering inspection of their buildings’ stability, following which it could be inspected by Works. He agreed if earthquake tremors were shallower, they might have had more effects.

Damage to houses, jetties at ‘Epicentre’

Among the most chilling impacts of Tuesday’s earthquake was a video of the tip of Centipede Island breaking off and falling into the sea, with a huge splash which sent water up into the air. Down the Islands residents near the ‘quake’s epicentre yesterday confirmed damage to properties.

Robert Tardieu, navigator of Great Race speedboat White Heat lives on Monos Island.

He said, “There’s a lot of structural damage, everything fell off shelves, walls and counters during the earthquake. We had no current for nine hours and were isolated. But people who have homes on the island haven’t been down here to assess properties.”

His brother Derick Tardieu, who owns Tardieu Marina in Chaguaramas, said the jetty and other parts of the facility were damaged.

Also heavily traumatised were some southern construction workers who were on cranes when Tuesday’s earthquake hit and had their crane swaying shakily from side to side, causing them to yell in fear.

Communications Minister Stuart Young yesterday said Centipede Island wasn’t high on the list of priorities since it’s uninhabited, but the Coast Guard is patrolling the area. The situation in Tobago, where Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will stage a Conversation with the PM this evening, seemed alright, he added.’

Categories: News

Union no clearer on way forward

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 10:19

Despite finally meeting with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Petrotrin’s future and its pending restructuring process yesterday, Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) head Ancel Roget described the meeting as “not helpful”, admitting suspicions had flooded his mind about the future of the company’s refinery since they were no clearer on its future.

“By the Prime Minister’s utterance, we are very suspicious that the recommendation would have contained therein that the company would not now own the refinery, but we wait to see,” Roget said.

Roget was speaking with the media after meeting with Rowley, Minister of Energy Franklin Khan, Minister of Trade Paula Gopee-Scoon and Stuart Young in his capacity as Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) at the OPM in St Clair.

Roget said terms and conditions of the restructuring were not discussed and added that the union was now waiting with bated breath to meet with the Petrotrin board to continue the process of restructuring the company’s operation.

“We are in no way clearer or assured on Petrotrin’s success. Based on the PM’s utterances, the board produced a report to the PM and Cabinet which they have accepted and about implementing the recommendations,” Roget said.

He added that whilst restructuring was accepted, the way forward on how it will be done was not disclosed.

Roget, however, made it clear that the OWTU has always called for restructuring as a way of making the state-company “viable and profitable”.

“Of course Petrotrin needs new capital and it will come from financiers that will see higher prospects based on restructuring. No financier will invest with it as it is,” Roget said.

He, however, reiterated his call for members to come out in their numbers on Sunday at 3 pm outside the Prime Minister’s residence in St Ann’s to engage in a prayer service for the company, the nation and the job security of Petrotrin employees.

Gopee-Scoon, who spoke on behalf of Rowley after the meeting, said the issue of restructuring Petrotrin was a national one “with much work to be done”. She added that the new board would have carefully considered all options and included its cost structures and bond payments, one of which is due August 2019 (US$850 million) and another in 2022 to the value of US$750 million.

“It was incumbent of the board to come up with some solutions…the Cabinet dissected and restructured all that was put forward by the board, including several recommendations addressing the major aspects of Petrotrin, including Trinmar, on-land operations, refinery and some other points,” Gopee-Scoon said.

“These issues are not going away…these issues are involving heavy costs, which would further impact Government’s economic situation and economic growth situation.”

From as early as 9.30 am yesterday, scores of unionised Petrotrin employees had gathered outside the OPM where they chanted and prayed for job security and success for Petrotrin’s future. The huge gathering caused a heavy police presence in and around the OPM in a bid to ensure that law and order were maintained.

Categories: News

2 cops charged with murder

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 10:16

Two police officers charged with the murder of San Fernando resident Adelle Gilbert were jeered by members of the public and prisoners as they were being escorted in handcuffs from the San Fernando Magistrates Court yesterday.

Police Constables Donald Snaggs and Peter Farnum were charged almost two years after Gilbert was shot by the police near his Carlton Lane, San Fernando home prompting calls from his relatives then for justice.

Police alleged that Gilbert was armed with a gun and had fired at them. Part of the incident was captured by camera footage and formed part of the police investigation.

Farnum, 34, who has seven years service, was attached to the Inter-Agency Task Force, Laventille.

Farnum was arrested at his work place yesterday morning. They were charged by Snr Supt Kenneth Galindo of Homicide Bureau of Investigations.

Shortly before 4 pm they appeared in the Second Court before Magistrate Kerianne Byer who read the charge to them.

It alleged that on October 20, 2016 at Lawrence Street they murdered Gilbert. Farnum was represented by attorneys Keith Beckles and Keon Beckles who asked for disclosure.

Beckles asked for initial report of the incident, reports submitted to the investigators by the accused, CCTV/video footage, ballistic report and other forensic reports, crime scene investigators report, post mortem report and any oral statements.

Farnum’s attorneys also held for attorney Joseph Honore who is representing Snaggs.

The officers were remanded into prison custody and the matter adjourned to September 17.

The officers were given a hooded jacket by their colleagues to cover their faces as they were being escorted from court to the prison van.

People standing outside the court and prisoners who were already in the prison van taunted them as they walked towards the van.

Categories: News

$200,000 bail for two SRPs on misbehaviour charges

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 10:14

Two Special Reserve Police officers have been each granted $200,000 bail after appearing in court charged with robbing two men in separate incidents, earlier this year.

PCs Navindra Sinanan, 41, of McBean Village, Couva, and Nigel Dhanpat, 38, of Tumpuna Road, Arima, appeared before Magistrate Christine Charles in the Chaguanas Magistrate’s Court, on Monday, on four charges of misbehaviour in public office.

Dhanpat and Sinanan were last assigned to the Chaguanas Rapid Response Unit.

The first incident occurred on January 27 when they responded to a report of a fight between a man and a woman at Price Plaza, Chaguanas.

Sinanan and Dhanpat separated the couple and allegedly took the 19-year-old man to Penco Street, Chagunas, where they are accused of robbing him of two Samsung S8 cellphones and a quantity of cash, before letting him go.

The second occurred almost three months later on March 24. The duo was reportedly on patrol along the Chaguanas Main Road when they forced a 52-year-old produce vendor into their vehicle.

They are accused of robbing the man of $100 worth of produce, $400 in cash and only allegedly releasing him after he bought them, $40 in drinks.

The officers were charged after an investigation led by Senior Supt Andy Belfon was completed last week.

The duo is expected to reappear in court on December 11.

Categories: News

New hotline flooded with info

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 10:11

Riding on a wave of goodwill from the public, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith says he is already getting hundreds of calls on his private line 482-GARY giving details of criminal activity in T&T.

He is also receiving many prank calls, all of which he is acknowledging.

Speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, Griffith said he was heartened by the public confidence in him.

“I have received thousands of calls and I am dealing with everyone when I get a chance. I am receiving information that can be of value. I am getting many calls about financial intelligence. I am also receiving the calls about a mango that fell in a neighbour’s yard as well as calls about crime plans. I am getting all those and acknowledging the messages. I am also getting very serious concerns and reports which are being forwarded to the relevant departments for investigations and possible action,” Griffith said.

He assured that all the calls were confidential.

Griffith also dismissed statements that the launch of his direct public information line would undermine the credibility of other crime hotlines such as 999, 555 and Crime Stoppers 800-TIPS.

Saying his new crime initiatives were not meant to discredit his predecessors, Griffith said he expected negative comments from the criminal elements.

“I think it is very disappointing and disturbing that I am finding different opportunities for the public to come forward and give information and people are criticising. In a recent poll, 96 per cent of the people said they were supporting it.

The only people who are against it and finding concerns with it is the criminal elements because this is another spoke in their wheel,” Griffith said.

He added that his plans involved the public and all members of the TTPS whom he intended to motivate and empower.

“There will be many strategies to improve the performance, image, performance, and productivity of the Police Service, you will see and feel the difference,” Griffith said.

“I have to get every member of the Police Service to understand what I am doing. I will be visiting every police station. I will be meeting every Member of Parliament and every member of the business sector who would like to meet with me,” Griffith said.

“There will be new methods to measure performance and to make each person accountable. It will be just like a business or like any company in the private sector.

“I intend to make every police officer accountable to the citizens of the nation based on their performance. This is not in any way to be seen as disciplinary measures.

“Measurements for performance and accountability will now be used as a yardstick so that police officers can be recognised, commended, rewarded and even promoted based on their exceptional performance,” he added.

Contacted yesterday, president of the Police Social and Welfare Association Inspector Michael Seales said the Association was in support of Griffith’s scientific approach to measuring performance in the TTPS.

“The association has recognised what the CoP has said. We applaud this new measure of accountability, leadership, and transparency. The old archaic system of measuring individuals performance is a redundant use of old resources.

In this new management system, we will have key performance indicators to drive performance and we applaud this because it is connected to rewards and promotions,” Seales said.

Categories: News

Imbert slams Kamla over NIF criticism: Claims baseless

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 10:09

“Unfounded” and “baseless”.

That is how Finance Minister Colm Imbert described Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s accusations that the National Investment Fund Holding Company (NIF) was illegal.

At an impromptu media conference at his Port-of-Spain office yesterday, Imbert blasted Persad-Bissessar for her condemnation and allegation that insurance companies’ investment in the NIF was unlawful.

“It is a figment of the Leader of the Opposition’s imagination,” Imbert said.

He confirmed that although the new Insurance Act does place a 25 per cent total capital limit on how much an insurance company may invest, it is yet to be proclaimed and there is a three-year transitional period.

“It is impossible, wrong, false, misleading and very unfortunate that she attempts to undermine the success of the Ministry of Finance,” Imbert said.

“I heard the Opposition Leader saying that the Government, through mischief or incompetence or ineptitude or just plain bad-mind, I guess, have encouraged insurance companies to break the law and to exceed limit allowed for a single investment in a financial instrument of this nature. I wish to reject that in its entirety.”

Speaking at the United National Congress’ (UNC) Monday Night Forum in Chaguanas on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar questioned the legitimacy of the insurance companies investing large sums into the Government’s NIF Holding Company. Persad-Bissessar also called on Imbert to say if financial institutions, among them insurance companies and credit unions, may be in violation of the new Insurance Act 2018 by purchasing the bonds.

Addressing Persad-Bissessar’s claims yesterday, however, Imbert said: “I don’t know if she is unhappy with the success of the NIF, I don’t know what the problem is. What I do know is that she is wrong in everything that she says.”

Imbert said Persad-Bissessar had also initially labelled the NIF as a Ponzi scheme which was also incorrect as the NIF was backed by billions of dollars in assets.

“That was a nonsense statement in the beginning, now I see the Opposition Leader is coming after the tremendous success of the NIF, beyond people’s wildest imaginations, to say that it is a breach of the law. That also is not true,” he said.

He said in the current Insurance Act there is no stipulated amount that a company can invest. He said he piloted a new Insurance Act, which has not yet been proclaimed, which sets a limit at 25 per cent of the capital of the insurance company.

“So when the new law comes in insurance companies will be allowed to only invest 25 per cent of their capital. But because its brand new, the law gives insurance companies a transition period of three years to put their house in order.

So even if and when we proclaim the Insurance Act, which the plan is to do so by the end of this year, when that comes into force insurance companies will have until 2021 to make whatever arrangements they have to make,” he said.

Imbert said insurance companies had requested an increase from 25 per cent to 50 per cent once the investment opportunity is offered by a wholesome and trusted company. He said that the Cabinet Note which Persad-Bissessar referred to on Monday night was one to seek Cabinet approval to increase that limit.

“It is not after the fact as the Leader of the Opposition alleged, it is long before the three-year deadline expires in December 2021,” he said.

But he said all the explanation was irrelevant because of the oversubscription of the NIF.

“There is no insurance company that is investing more than 25 per cent,” he said.

Over the weekend, Imbert sent out a series of tweets boasting of the success of the NIF, saying it had been oversubscribed by 50 per cent. He gave more details of the bond success yesterday to defend against Opposition criticism.

“The total is $7.35 billion, which is equivalent to an over-subscription of 82 per cent. On that basis alone the NIF bond was a tremendous success,” he said.

The NIF is broken down into three tranches - five, 12 and 20 years - at differing fixed rates.

“For the five-year, the application or subscription as it is called is $2.17 billion, the 12-year $1.6 billion and the 20-year $3.56 billion,” Imbert said.

NIF INVESTORS

Pension funds $828 million
Credit unions $251 million
Mutual funds $1.2 billion
Insurance companies $2.1 billion
Other $1.1 billion
National Insurance Board $1 billion

Categories: News

Kamla going to Integrity body

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 10:04

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has confirmed that his wife has been providing consultancy services for a particular company but has denied Opposition claims of her involvement in Government project contracts being awarded to the firm, saying he recused himself in the matter of two projects.

However, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who challenged Deyalsingh on the matter on Monday, said after Deyalsingh’s confirmation she was moving to take the matter to the Integrity Commission.

“This is to determine whether Mr Deyalsingh did indeed, in the execution of his duties as Health Minister, a public office, act in keeping with the spirit and letter of the Integrity in Public Life Act,” Persad-Bissessar added yesterday.

“In light of Mr Deyalsingh’s forced public confession to his spouse’s involvement with a company receiving state contracts involving taxpayers’ dollars, I’m left with no choice but to conclude this matter warrants further investigation.”

Deyalsingh’s confirmation about his wife came after Persad-Bissessar, at Monday’s UNC meeting in Chaguanas, called on Deyalsingh and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to identify which PNM Minister’s wife allegedly works with a company which got Government contracts.

Persad-Bissessar, querying alleged family ties in state contracts, had said, “Tonight I want to ask Deyalsingh about a company (name called). This company has the contract for several Government projects which includes the Mt Hope School of Dentistry and the Red House Restoration project.

“It’s our understanding the company is also handling the Port-of-Spain General Hospital reconstruction project. It’s also alleged the Minister and his wife are friends of the company’s owner.”

The firm in question is described as a contractor/manufacturer specialising in general construction and interior outfitting. When Guardian Media contacted the firm yesterday, a young lady said there were two directors and they were overseas and there was no communication officer or other spokespeople to refer to since it “was a very small firm”.

Deyalsingh, however, deemed Persad-Bissessar’s claim “fake news”. The Health Ministry later issued a statement on his behalf on the matter.

The statement said: “The Minister confirms that Mrs Deyalsingh has in fact been providing consultancy services for a particular company over the past fifteen years spanning several administrations.”

However, the Ministry sought to clarify Persad-Bissessar’s claims—which were deemed “false”—concerning Mrs Deyalsingh’s involvement in the following projects:

• Mt Hope School of Dentistry: The minister advised this is a UWI project and not a Government project as suggested by Persad-Bissessar. Accordingly, the minister had “absolutely no involvement” in this project, which started in January 2015.

• Red House Restoration Project: When this project was discussed at the Cabinet meeting, the Health Minister advised that he declared an interest in the matter and took no part in the deliberations as per transparency and good governance. The minister accordingly had no involvement in this project.

• Port-of-Spain General Hospital Reconstruction Project: If the Opposition Leader was referring to the Central Block re-construction project, no contract has been awarded for this project at this time.

However, if the Opposition Leader was referring to refurbishment works currently being undertaken at two wards at the PoS General Hospital, a contract for these works was awarded by the North West Regional Health Authority. The award of this contract was approved by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health since the minister had declared an interest in the matter. The Minister of Health accordingly also had no involvement in this project.

Persad-Bissessar said she noted Health Minsiter Deyalsingh’s swift response to her concerns regarding the Government’s overall management of taxpayers’ dollars, state contracts “and the extension of this disturbing trait of possible nepotism from the very ministry over which he presides”.

“In his response, issued under cover of a Health Ministry press release, Mr Deyalsingh essentially confirms all the issues I raised on Monday, namely that his wife, Mrs Deyalsingh, is affiliated with a consultancy firm that has been contracted to provide services for three projects that fall under the specific purview of the Cabinet where he sits as a decision maker, as well as the Health Ministry, where he sits as policy director and effectively, chief decision maker,” Persad-Bissessar said yesterday.

“The projects he named are the Mt Hope School of Dentistry, the Red House Restoration Project and the Refurbishment Works at Two Wards at the PoS General Hospital,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar condemned Deyalsingh’s “arrogant, dismissive stance” on the issue and slammed “his disingenuousness, cavalier dismissal of a very serious matter—management of taxpayers’ dollars... Mr Deyalsingh sought to condemn a matter which ironically, he himself confirmed to be true”.

“To deem an issue ‘fake news’ while in the same breath acknowledging its truth is laughable, but simultaneously frightening and an indictment on Mr Deyalsingh’s general incompetence.

Of more concern is Mr Deyalsingh’s frank confession that his close relative has been benefiting, directly/indirectly, from state contracts while he sits as a Cabinet Minister, and therefore, presumably, while he holds a position that puts him in direct power to influence any award of such contracts,” Persad-Bissessar said.

Categories: News

Car crushed by Cathedral stonework

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 09:58

The Holy Trinity Cathedral in Portof- Spain sustained damage during yesterday’s 6.9 magnitude earthquake.

The Labyrinth floor had fallen masonry and stonework and the top of the church tower was broken off.

The front end of a First Citizens employee’s Tiida car that was parked on the eastern side of the church carpark was destroyed by falling debris and stonework from the overhead church steeple.

Still shaken from the ordeal and on seeing the damage done to her car, the bank employee said: “I was about to leave the bank when the building started to shake.

“That’s what delayed me, I was just waiting for my daughter. As I came round the corner I saw the rubble on the street, then when I came closer; the car was gone.”

The woman asked her daughter to take photographs of the car and the church tower, which had exposed stonework.

She then told her daughter to carefully check if there were any valuables in the vehicle while keeping an eye out for falling debris.

Still distraught, the bank employee said she wanted to get out of city fast and go to her Chaguanas home. She was dropped off by her colleague.

Categories: News

Earthquake scare for hospital patients

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 09:53

Clutching her three young children and her mother who had suffered a stroke, Traci Cort fled the 15th floor of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital as the tremors from a 6.9 earthquake rocked T&T and parts of Venezuela yesterday.

Four glass panes of the hospital shattered but remained intact while another pane on the sixth floor splintered.

While the children screamed, lockers from the hospital wards collapsed sending staff, patients and visitors into a panic. Dozens of people headed for the stairway but were trapped, Cort said.

“Eventually, a nurse told us to stand in the doorway until it passed. People were screaming and running. It was terrifying,” Cort said.

Patient Nicholas Balgobin, who was warded after surviving an accident, said he headed for the door when the tremors became worse.

“I was not taking any chances.

People could not get out when they took the stairs because it was locked and the security was not around to help,” Balgobin claimed.

When Guardian Media arrived on the scene, dozens of security guards were gathered outside the security booth. Many began shouting at photographer Rishi Ragoonath when he began shooting photos.

Kieran Khan said he was collecting medication by the dispensary when the tremors began and while he ran out of the lower floor he saw people trying to get out using the staircase.

“I opened the door to get them out. It was really scary. I felt that people did not know what to do.”

At Sixth Street, Barataria, Dave Roopchand, who was on the third floor, ran out of his apartment in his boxers when the tremors started.

Glass items started to crash at One Woodbrook Place, a car was badly damaged when parts of the concrete wall began to collapse.

The same happened outside Trinrico at Coffee Street, San Fernando, where part of the roof fell in front of the store. No one was injured.

Mya Courtney, a sales clerk at the Gulf City Shopping Complex, said people grabbed their children and were screaming as they ran out of the mall.

“The whole mall start to shake up.

I don’t think there was any major damage but the bulbs fell out of the sockets and were just hanging.”

Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh said they were monitoring the sea level for any signs of a tsunami.

“I spoke with the fishermen and they are monitoring the situation right now. Everyone is traumatised right now. The phone lines were down so we are now calling around but so far we have gotten no reports of structural damage or injuries.”

Also contacted yesterday, National Building Code Committee chairman Shyankaran Lalla said T&T was fortunate the earthquake occurred 70 metres deep.

“Had it been shallower we would have attained a lot of damage in T&T. There is structural damage to buildings in Port-of-Spain. Part of Pizza Hut collapsed and fell on a vehicle,” Lalla said.

He called on the Government to immediately enact a National Building Code as a top priority, saying the next time an earthquake occurs, T&T may not escape unscathed.

Around 6.30 pm, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh reported that all health facilities in T&T were intact and the disaster plan was in full operation. However, when the Guardian Media contacted Medical Director Dr Albert Persaud he said preliminary checks at the old San Fernando General Hospital revealed everything was intact.

However, he said there was some damage to the glass panes at the Teaching Hospital at Chancery Lane. Persaud said they were trying to find space for 12 patients in case the glass panes collapsed.

Categories: News

PM Rowley wants better building codes

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 09:47

In the aftermath of yesterday’s 6.8 magnitude earthquake, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says Government’s major priority today will be to carry out inspections of damaged structures “to determine if their integrity is intact”.

Rowley was speaking during a live telephone interview during CNC3’s extended newscast last evening.

“As soon as it occurred the national security agencies have been monitoring. We have gotten a lot of reports of damages, which appears to be superficial but by tomorrow (today) we will know if any significant structural damage or any building integrity has been compromised,” Rowley said.

He, however, said that the construction work across the country, despite that fact that we do not have our own building code and are guided by the California code, worked “fairly well” during yesterday’s occurrence. “By and large, to go through an earthquake like this and not suffer significant structural damage speaks fairly well for our construction,” he said.

He also noted that given that T&T is in an earthquake zone, we could never really be real prepared for such a shake. He emphasised the importance of the “need to have laws and enforce them”.

“Our structures will one day be subjected to this kind of shake and one day we need to have laws and enforce them. Unfortunately, in this country we are not very good at enforcing laws.”

Categories: News

Works crews out today

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 09:43

There was chaos yesterday from the most violent earthquake to hit T&T in this century!

Buildings suffered structural damage, there were electricity outages in the East and West, police were on high alert - and inspections are set to be carried out in full force this morning.

This after Trinidad and Tobago yesterday got the shock of its collective life around 5.31 pm when the “monster” earthquake hit T&T, part of a wave extending to Grenada. Its actual epicentre was in northern Venezuela where it was felt at a level of 7.3 on the Richter scale according to US estimates.

In T&T, the 90-second earthquake measured 6.9 according to T&T’s Seismic Research Centre at St Augustine. The epicentre was in the Paria peninsula, with the north/west of T&T registering the quake’s strongest hit, SRC stated. The event came in waves of very strong intensity, subsiding slightly and resuming heavy shaking, followed by tangible multiple after-shocks. The centre confirmed that less intense after-shocks were still occurring past 9 pm last night and could continue for months with an earthquake as strong as yesterday’s event.

SRC officials told T&T Guardian that yesterday’s event was the strongest earthquake to hit this country in more than a century. The largest was in 1776 when a 7.8 ‘quake destroyed T&T’s capital, which was then at St Joseph. It was later rebuilt in PoS.

When yesterday’s “monster” unleashed its full strength, screams, shock, panic and fear gripped many citizens from north to south as they endured the violent rocking, rolling and shaking, plus strong multiple after-shocks for the 90-second duration.

In Port-of-Spain where all types of damage were reported, people fled buildings once the initial rocking subsided.

Police, emergency and Government teams went into action immediately after the event occurred.

Communication Minister Stuart Young, who appeared on a national TV programme to update the country on measures being taken, urged citizens not to panic.

Parts of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in PoS were damaged and the cross atop the Trinity Cathedral was also bent out of shape, crookedly.

Several Government officials at a meeting at the Hyatt Regency hotel reported some damage there. Udecott chairman Noel Garcia said the hotel’s communication tower was damaged and Hyatt crews immediately evacuated the hotel and went room to room to check on guests and damage.

A shocked Garcia said the eighth floor of Tower D of the Waterfront Complex also sustained structural damage. He said Udecott crews will be touring facilities built by Udecott - the Education Tower on St Vincent Street and others - from this morning to assess the damage.

The 22nd floor of the Waterfront Complex’s Tower D felt the impact so much that files were reported to be strewn around offices. Heavy damage to parts of One Woodbrook place was also reported on social media.

Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte, who toured several areas last night, said his ministry at One Alexandra Street sustained minor damage.

“The earthquake, however, impacted power generation at some facilities resulting in electricity outages in the east from Trincity, west from Westmoorings, Maraval, Moka and other places. Teams went out immediately and were expected to get electricity back on. They’ll continue going out (this morning) to inspect damage,” Le Hunte said.

“TTEC and WASA have contingency plans for events like this, but after what was one of the worst - if not the worst - earthquake in intensity and length of duration, we’ll see what needs to be upgraded.”

Works Minister Rohan Sinanan said up to last night there had been no reports of roads, bridges or overpasses damaged.

Teams from the ministry will be out this morning to inspect all such infrastructure in an emergency plan. Another batch of teams will be inspecting all Government buildings. Sinanan said people who suspect their building has been damaged can contact the ministry to have an inspection done.

“I was at an office which I exited when the earthquake occurred. What struck me was that it was long as well as strong,” Sinanan said of yesterday’s incident.

Health Minister Terrence meanwhile said he’d been on a walkabout in Curepe when the ‘quake hit. He said all health facilities were intact and the ministry’s Disaster Preparedness plan was in force.

“We did walk-throughs at the major facilities in Port-of-Spain, San Fernando, Mt Hope and Sangre Grande and it seems there’s no major disruption in electricity. However, we’re asking patients to use health facilities for only absolute emergencies and depending on how things work, we may cancel elective surgeries between today (Tuesday) and Thursday to cater to any possible surge in demand for medical attention.”

New Police Commissioner Gary Griffith and National Security’s Young also co-ordinated emergency responses from the National Operations Centre.

Griffith activated plans for police patrols to operate throughout the country to assist citizens in need or who were injured. He also issued advisories for citizens to call 999 in the event they required assistance.

Shock, panic, fear islandwide

In various parts of downtown PoS, pieces of concrete and structures could be seen on some streets after falling to the earthquake’s strength.

The Guardian Media building, a historic part of St Vincent Street, also suffered some damage in places externally. Attorneys in chambers nearby were seen surveying their office buildings and security guards in several locations were seen outside of their premises just after the earthquake.

For those who were still making their way home through PoS after 5.30 pm, the only conversations were about the earthquake. One woman walking with her colleague said she had seen the ground “breaking up” as they moved. Other homebound folk hustled to get home, faces grim.

Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald said she’d been near Morvant when it hit.

“I just saw cars rocking and didn’t understand what was happening,” she said.

“I’ve learned there’s some damage at the ministry, which is a multi-storey building - tiles have fallen et cetera - this will be assessed (today).”

Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan said he was in Avocat at the time but hadn’t seen any damage there.

“However, in all my 70 years I’ve never experienced anything like that - it was terrible, the biggest earthquake,” he said.

Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodan said corporation teams will be out today checking for damage - particularly in the area of the highway overpass which had been damaged by an earthquake several years ago.

UNC MP Ganga Singh expressed concern of the danger of a tsunami after the earthquake but Seismic Research Centre officials said while there was an initial tsunami alert from the Pacific Tsunami Centre, it was later assessed there was no surge danger.

The USGS’ earthquake site noted while there have been 17 previous earthquakes of six-plus magnitude in this region, large earthquakes are rare and yesterday’s was “the largest historic event within 250 km of this location in the 20th and 21st centuries”.

In January, T&T was rocked by five earthquakes in one day. The Seismic Research Centre warned then T&T was at risk for a severe event
 

Categories: News

Duo charged with guns, grenade, bucket of bullets

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 23:54

Two men who were allegedly in possession of a hand grenade, firearms, ammunition and marijuana were each granted $950,000 bail yesterday.

Trevor Geeban, 34, of Boissiere Village, Maraval and Kadeem Weekes, 30, of East Dry River, Port-of-Spain, appeared before Siparia Senior Magistrate Margaret Alert.

The men were arrested by officers of the South Western Division Task Force and Penal CID during an anti-crime exercise in Penal on Saturday. It is alleged that the officers stopped and searched a grey Hyundai Tucson in which the men were travelling, around 11.40pm at Tulsa Trace, San Francique.

It is alleged that the officers found a hand grenade, a pigtail bucket containing two Smith and Wesson revolvers, along with nine rounds of .38mm ammunition and 58 boxes containing a total of 1,450 rounds of 9mm ammunition.

The police allegedly found in the back seat a crocus bag with ten packets of compressed marijuana, weighing 5.179 kilogrammes said to have an estimated street value of $51,790.

Geeban and Weekes who were allegedly in the car were charged by PC Riad Hosein, of the Penal CID.

The charges included possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of ammunition, possession of firearms and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

Prosecutor Starr Jacob objected to bail. Jacob also told the court that the Defence Force advised that they should produce photographs of the grenade rather than the actual grenade as it is a highly sensitive explosive and dangerous item.

However, the defence objected and requested that the grenade be produced during the trial. The magistrate ordered the accused to report three times at a police station.

They were represented by attorneys Mario Merritt and Nera Ramdeen. The matter was adjourned to September 17.

In the same court, Penal welder Kevin Ramsaran, 22, was jailed for 24 months after he was found with a Glock pistol and 15 rounds of 9 mm ammunition. Ramsaran was driving a Mitsubishi Pajero when he was stopped during a police roadblock at Field Road, Bennette Village, Santa Flora on Saturday.

Police found the loaded pistol under a mat on the driver’s side of the vehicle. He was charged by PC Brandon Joseph of the South Western Division Task Force.

Categories: News

Pages