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Police are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a murder victim, whose body was found in Mt Lambert yesterday.
According to reports, around 10.30 am residents of Mt Lambert Circular contacted police after they noticed the body of a man lying in a bushy area off the road.
The victim’s body was partially wrapped in a sheet and his head was covered with a T-Shirt.
The body was taken to the Forensic Science Centre in St James, where an autopsy will be performed as soon as it is identified.
Homicide detectives declined to comment on if the body bore marks of violence as they said they would wait for the autopsy to confirm the cause of death. Anyone with information which may help police solve the case is asked to call 555 or 800-TIPS.
Detectives of the Region Two Homicide Bureau are continuing investigations.
The family of former President George Maxwell Richards has one wish—for Carnival 2018 to be dedicated to him.
Putting forward the proposal was Richards’ daughter, Maxine, as she spoke to the media in the lobby of the Parliament, Port-of-Spain, where her father’s body will lie in State for a second day today, this time at the National Academy for the Performing Arts from 10 am to 5 pm.
His body will be taken through the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies from 7.45 am today as well.
Richards, 86, the country’s fourth president died last Monday from a heart attack.
His funeral service will take place tomorrow at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain.
On Saturday, Maxine said she saw her father’s body and on Sunday the family had a private viewing.
“Today, when I came to see him, it has been even harder,” she said.
Since Richards’ death last Monday, Maxine admitted that things have not been easy for her mother Jean Ramjohn-Richards who spent 50 years of her life with Richards.
When Ramjohn-Richards viewed her husband’s body yesterday she could not hold back the tears.
“My mother has been trying to be strong as she can possibly be. When she was leaving she asked my dad if it was okay to leave. She wanted him to know that she was leaving,” Maxine said.
Every Sunday, Maxine said she would visit her parents and spend time with them, stating that on Sunday she realised that her dad was gone for good.
She said it was comforting to know that her father made a lasting impression on so many people’s minds and hearts, as those who came across to her to extend condolences to her “genuinely looked sorry that he (Richards) was gone.”
Asked what his family thought would be a fitting tribute to her father, Maxine said “it would be lovely if this Carnival could be for him.
To ensure that Richards’ legacy lives on, Maxine said the family would establish a fund from which monies would be donated to “underprivileged” children and “young people who want to be engineers (chemical) like him…to raise funds for scholarships for them as well.”
As an educator, Maxine said her father would have wanted this.
Her fondest time with her dad, Maxine said was travelling around the globe during vacation.
And as an adult, Maxine said she partied, play mas and attended functions with father, stating that he always put his family first.
“A lot of people don’t get opportunities to do that. Some people wanted to party with my parents more than me.”
The joy and fond memories Maxine said her family shared, “I wish all families could have.”
Maxine told the T&T Guardian last night that seeing her mother weeping over her father’s body yesterday was “distressing.”
Asked how Ramjohn-Richards has been coping, Maxine said “not good”, stating that what her mother missed most about her dad was “his companionship, laugh, conversations. They were like two peas in a pod.”
Most times, Maxine said her parents were inseparable.
“When you see Max you see Jean. When you see Jean you see Max,” telling how close they were.
Maxine said invitations were extended to dignitaries outside of T&T, but could not say who will be part of the funeral service.
Police was called out to Matura last night after what appeared to be the severed leg of a man washed ashore.
The discovery was made less than 24 hours after a villager found a human arm, cut off from the elbow, on the same beach.
A villager jogging along Rincon Beach found by the severed arm on Sunday around 2 pm.
Investigators believe the limbs are from the same person.
Throngs of people, including school children turned out yesterday at Parliament to pay tribute to the country’s fourth President George Maxwell Richards, who they described as a statesman, exemplar, educator, down-to-earth and grassroots man.
Representing the Carnival band Legacy, Carol St John said she would always remember Richards who religiously came to their band launch with former chief justice Michael de la Bastide.
St John said one year she attended a PNM rally and walked into Legacy’s band launch wearing a red T-shirt with the word emblazoned “red and ready,” which Richards heckled her about.
St John said Richards remained a humble and down-to-earth person even after his term of office as President came to an end in 2013.
“May his soul rest in peace,” St John said, after viewing his body.
Last Monday, Richards died of a heart attack.
His funeral service will take place tomorrow at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, in Port-of-Spain.
There was a steady stream of mourners and members of the public, some of whom were school children and workers who took their lunch hour to bid farewell to Richards’ at the Parliament’s lobby, Port-of-Spain.
Hubert Diaz travelled from Arima with the national flag to say his final farewell to Richards who he described as a statesman.
Having served as a police officer for 46 years, Diaz said he began attending “evening classes” at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, campus, where Richards was principal.
“This is where I get to know him.”
At the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany, Diaz said his friendship with Richards grew as they were guests at the same hotel.
“When we were in Germany there were Trinis who had their little Carnival in the streets and he (Richards) was there with me…I had the national flag where we jumped up in the streets. He was a real gentleman and a God-send president of T&T. He was not this highfalutin type. He was down to earth. He loved people very much,” Diaz said.
Champs Fleurs resident Anthony Crichlow said Richards was a down-to-earth individual who never lost the human touch, even while he held the highest office in the land.
Crichlow said he would always remember Richards who encouraged not only tertiary level students to strive for excellence, but all citizens.
“He was a good man…an exemplar and everybody should follow in his footsteps.”
After spending three hours in traffic on the Solomon Hochoy Highway yesterday, Dexter St Louis said he did not mind, since he wanted to pay his last respects to the man everyone called Max.
“I didn’t know the man personally but I want to tip my hat to him for all that he has done for our nation. He was the last of the Mohicans…we would not get another president like him again. From culture to Carnival, Max was in everything. He lived life to the max and fullest.”
Among the students who viewed Richards’ body was Nelson Street Boys’ RC School.
Ailing mother Stephanie Mohammed yesterday celebrated with her husband after getting promising news that the Ministry of Health had granted approval for her to undergo a free medical study for a painful heart condition.
Mohammed, 27, of Cunjal Road, Barrackpore, suffers from atrial fibrillation, an erratic beating of the heart, which if left untreated could result in death.
She was diagnosed in 2015 while she was pregnant with her last child Alieyah. She has two other children— Aleema, four and Aleem aged seven.
Mohammed said the news of the medical treatment means that she can look forward to a life without pain.
She said the $53,000 electro-physiology study (EPS) will assess her abnormal heart rhythm and determine whether she has to undergo further heart surgery.
The EPS will help doctors understand the nature of Mohammed’s abnormal heart rhythm by testing the electrical activity of her heart to find the source of the abnormal heartbeat.
Mohammed said this is the second EPS to be done at the Advanced Cardio Vascular Institute at West Shore Medical Centre. She said her doctor confirmed yesterday that all approvals had been granted and the surgery will be scheduled soon.
“Sometimes the pain is so unbearable that I just lie down. I can’t play with the children and sometimes I cannot do the housework.
The doctor prescribed some strong painkillers but I could not get them as yet. I am looking forward to being healthy and strong because I want to live for my husband and our children,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed’s story was featured in the T&T Guardian last December.
Several Good Samaritans were moved by Mohammed’s pain when they saw her sitting on the floor of her ply-board house under a Christmas tree devoid of decorations.
Mohammed’s husband Shazim works at a grocery for minimum wage and Mohammed said it was difficult meeting her medical bills.
Her elder brother, Rias, has been assisting but Mohammed said she was praying that she could resume a healthy lifestyle after undergoing heart surgery.
She said doctors were baffled over her diagnosis as atrial fibrillation usually occurred in older people.
Contacted yesterday, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said he was happy to help Mohammed.
“We are fixing all systems so the average person can have their matters attended to expeditiously. It is all part of the culture change of putting the patient first,” Deyalsingh said.
Saying he was glad to see his efforts bearing fruit, Deyalsingh said Mohammed’s approvals shows that the Ministry of Health was on the right track. Anyone wanting to assist Mohammed can contact her at 360-4373.
Imani Blackett’s ambition of becoming a cattle farmer and purchasing his own car died with him yesterday as he was gunned down while working at his cousin’s parlour.
Blackett, 22, of Thornhill Drive, Cocoyea Village, San Fernando was said to be loving and kind-hearted towards his family and never got involved in altercations.
It was why relatives were confused as to why he met such a violent demise. Rain was pouring around 12.30 pm when a silver pick-up truck stopped in front of the parlour at the corner of Forres Avenue and St Andrews Avenue, Cocoyea.
Eyewitnesses said that a gunman jumped out the van and opened fire on Blackett. The youngster was only able to reach just outside the door before he fell into a clump of grass and died.
San Fernando CID, Mon Repos Police and the Homicide Bureau of Investigations, Region III, including Insp Gajadhar, Insp Corrie, Insp Figaro, Sgt Ramlogan and Cpl Bacchus responded.
Searches were made throughout the community for the suspect and the pickup. Up to late yesterday, neither was found.
Police said Blackett was not known to be involved in crime.
As friends, family and relatives gathered near the crime scene, tears flowed openly while some others stood in disbelief.
Blackett’s father, Francis Blackett, said that he was at home when he heard the gunshots. When he looked out, he saw a pick-up driving off. It was only when a neighbour came to him that he found out that his son was killed.
“He didn’t use to interfere with anybody. He never used to look for trouble. I know some people don’t like to see other people progress and they would fight you down but I don’t know if that was the reason,” Blackett said.
In a separate incident, police are also investigating the shooting of three men in Point Fortin on Sunday night. Reports are that Glenroy London, Ricardo Mohammed and another man who was identified only as Turbo, were gambling at a house in Warden Road.
Around 11 pm, gunmen opened fire on the house, wounding all three men. The men were taken to the Area Hospital, Point Fortin and transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital where they were warded in serious conditions.
An argument between two fishermen over a missing boat light ended in murder in the fishing village of Cumana near Toco on Sunday.
David Callender, 38, fisherman of Unity Lane, Anglais Road, Cumana was shot repeatedly and died while being treated at the Toco Health Centre.
The 30-year-old suspect of the nearby L’Anse Noire Village was detained during a roadblock in Matura hours after the incident.
Police reported that around 6.25 pm on Sunday, an argument between Callender and the suspect escalated over a missing boat light.
Callender was accused of stealing the light and was shot, eyewitnesses said.
Villagers took the injured man to the nearby Toco Health Centre but he died within an hour.
Eyewitnesses told police that the shooter left in his Nissan Navara vehicle. Hours later he was stopped in Matura.
The driver was detained and police later released a woman who was also in the vehicle.
Cpl Kent of Matura police following instructions handed over the suspect to homicide officers attached to Region 11, Arouca.
Ag ASP Etienne and other police officers attached to Toco Police Station, Cpl Mohammed, PCs Lewis and Ramdial of Homicide Bureau, Region 11, Arouca were among the officers who visited the scene.
Two held, gun,
Two men were arrested and a
revolver and ammunition seized by officers of the Point Fortin
Police Station during an
anti-crime exercise over the weekend.
At around 11 am on Saturday, during the officers went to
Pundit Street, Cap-de-Ville, where they saw three men seated on the steps of a
dilapidated house. The men ran off but two were subsequently held. The area where the men were seated was searched and the revolver and one round of .38mm ammunition were seized.
The suspects, from Tobago and Cap-de-Ville, were arrested and the search continues for the third suspect.
Cpl Naresh Bajan and PC
Arnold Maharaj, along with officers of the Point Fortin CID, took part in the exercise
illegal fiream found
Officers from the Central
Division Operations Unit arrested a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old and seized a revolver and a
quantity of ammunition in Chaguanas.
During an exercise
spearheaded by acting ASP Richard Smith which included the Driving Under the Influence Task Force, officers stopped and searched a silver Kia Rio with two male occupants at corner of Pierre and Cacandee Roads. The revolver and three rounds of .38mm ammunition were found and the suspects, both of Dow Village, California, were arrested.
Officers of the Northern Division Area Central Task Force arrested a 17-year-old and seized a pistol and a quantity of ammunition during a search of an apartment in Oropune.
The officers executed a search warrant at Apartment #2,
Oropune Circular, Oropune, and found Ruger pistol loaded with a magazine containing 16 rounds of 9mm ammunition being
discovered in a bedroom. The teen suspect was detained.
The exercise was co-ordinated by acting Assistant
Commissioner of Police
McDonald Jacob and
spearheaded by acting Snr
Supt Michael Daniel.
In a separate case in
Pleasantville, officers of the Mon Repos Police Station, Southern Division Task Force and Rapid Response Unit arrested an 18-year-old teen during a search of an apartment at Building D, Orchid Gardens after they found a Beretta pistol and 12 rounds of 9mm.
Unable to contain her emotions Jean Ramjohn-Richards broke down in tears yesterday, as she viewed the body of her husband and former President George Maxwell Richards at the Parliament lobby in Port-of-Spain.
Overcome with grief, Ramjohn-Richards had to be comforted by her daughter Maxine, who put on a brave face and shoulder of support.
From at 7.30 am yesterday, there was a ceremonial procession of Richards’ body from the Old Fire Station, on Abercromby Street, to the Parliament Building, on Wrightson Road, which led to traffic gridlock in and out of the capital city.
Among the first to view Richards at 10.05 am was Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley who spoke briefly to Ramjohn-Richards before he signed the condolence book and left.
Acting President Christine Kangaloo, Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and several of her MPs all offered their sympathies to the widow and her daughter. Richards’ son, Mark, was not present.
After the dignitaries left, Ramjohn-Richards walked across to his casket, which was draped in the national flag.
As she looked down at the casket, she burst into tears.
Ramjohn-Richards was escorted out of the lobby by Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George to an awaiting vehicle which drove off.
Thereafter members of the public who were waiting were invited to pay their final respects to the former president.
In paying tribute to Richards, Persad-Bissessar said during her tenure as prime minister said had reason to call on Richards for advice involving an individual who was on an independent commission after there was a hue and cry about comments that person had made.
She said while some people looked at Richards as a PNM president, Persad-Bissessar he always had a listening ear.
Persad-Bissessar said the advice Richards imparted to her was “you must always be calm, reflect and give due consideration.”
Oropouche MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said it would be most fitting to name an institution after Richards for his invaluable contribution to education and country, while he should be honoured for his love for culture.
Parliamentary Secretary in the National Security Ministry Glenda Jennings-Smith said Richards who was a regular visitor to her Toco/Sangre Grande constituency has left a legacy for our country.
Minister of Social Development and Family Services Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn said we can never stop thanking Richards for serving T&T will distinction and honour.
The first Panorama title of the 2018 season has gone to Angostura Newtown Steel Symphony.
The band retained the National Panorama Single Pan Band title on Sunday night, earning 286 points for their performance of a Carlan Harewood arrangement of David Rudder’s Hammer.
Pan Jammers was a close second a score of 285 point for Signal To Lara and there was a tie for third place between Marsicans (Party Time Again) and T&T Fire Service (DuDu Yemi) with 282 points.
Front-runner in the preliminaries, Woodbrook Playboyz tied with San Juan East Side Symphony for the sixth spot with a total of 278 points.
The finals took place at the Princess Royal Basketball Court, Arima, with 20 bands competing for the title.
Judges were Dr Audley Timothy, Brendon Moore, Dexter Asson, Cuthbert Matthews, Vorbin Cordice and Joslynne Sealey.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados—About 90 Pan-African organisations and leaders in the Caribbean, including T&T’s Emancipation Support Committee, have declared United States President Donald J. Trump “persona non-grata” for reported racist remarks he made last week about Haiti and African nations.
The leaders said that Trump made himself unwelcome with his vulgar insults against Haiti and African countries, saying that they likely speak for the entire African Diaspora.
The declaration was authored on Saturday by the “pan-Africanist and socialist popular forces of Barbados,” and submitted to the people and civil society organisations of the Caribbean for their endorsement and adoption.
Among the organsations and leaders supporting and endorsing the declaration are: the Clement Payne Movement of Barbados; Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration (CMPI); Caribbean Pan-African Network (CPAN); Peoples Empowerment Party (Barbados); Pan-African Federalist Movement—Caribbean Region Committee; International Committee of Black Peoples (Guadeloupe); Jamaica-Cuba Friendship Association; Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago; Organisation for the Victory of the People (Guyana); Black Consciousness Movement of Guyana; and the International Movement for Reparations (Martinique).
“We, the under-signed representatives of the sovereign people of the Caribbean, hereby declare that President Donald Trump of the United States of America is ‘persona non-grata’ in our Caribbean region,” the declaration said.
“We further declare that as a ‘persona non-grata,’ President Donald Trump is NOT welcome in any territory of the Caribbean; and we hereby confirm that we—the Caribbean people—will petition our governments, vehemently protest against any Trump visit, and engage in popular demonstrations designed to prevent President Donald Trump’s entry into any portion of the sovereign territory of our Caribbean region,” it adds.
“As sons and daughters of the Caribbean, we hereby affirm that the continent of Africa is the revered motherland of a sizeable majority of our people and that the Republic of Haiti—the seminal architect of the destruction of the system of chattel slavery that held our ancestors in bondage—is the foundational cornerstone of our Caribbean civilisation,” the declaration continues.
“And we, therefore, consider that any insult or attack that is directed at the African continent or at the Republic of Haiti is intrinsically an insult and attack that is directed at us as well.
“We further affirm that we Caribbean people—in light of our history of experiencing, resisting and surviving the most horrendous forms of enslavement and colonialism—consciously regard ourselves as champions and defenders of the dignity and fundamental human rights of all Black or African people, and that we are guided by an over-arching and non-negotiable principle of zero tolerance of any manifestation of anti-Black or anti-African racism or discrimination,” it says.
It is against this background that the declaration says: “we, the sovereign people of the Caribbean, have determined that by describing the nations of Africa, the Republic of Haiti and the Central American nation of El Salvador as ‘ sh****e’ countries, US President Donald Trump has committed a despicable and unpardonable act of anti-Black, anti-African, anti-Brown racism that has served to further energize and fortify the vile White supremacy system that the said President Trump has self-consciously sought to champion and lead.”
The declaration says that: “We, the sovereign people of the Caribbean, hereby declare to the entire world that we vehemently and unreservedly denounce President Donald Trump and the evil and inhuman White supremacy value system that he represents.”
After three days of denunciations from around the world, including many in the Caribbean and the Caribbean Diaspora, Trump declared on Sunday that he is “not a racist,” even as the uproar over his vulgar remarks on immigration overshadowed critical issues facing the US, including efforts to protect young undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants and avert a government shutdown.
“I’m not a racist,” said Trump late Sunday as he arrived at Trump International Golf Club in Florida for dinner with California Republic Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader, who attended the meeting on Thursday at the White House, where Trump reportedly made the disparaging remarks about Haiti and African nations.
“I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you,” Trump told reporters.
The remarks represent Trump’s first direct response to accusations of racism that have dogged him since he allegedly asked “Why are we having all these people from sh****e countries come here?” in the meeting on immigration on Thursday, referring to Haiti and African nations.
He was not in his usual spot—stage front with drink in hand and having a good time at the fete he founded 27 years ago during his tenure as campus principal at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. But the memory of the late former president of the Republic of T&T, Professor George Maxwell Richards, surely lived on Sunday night at the annual UWI All-Inclusive fete as soca artistes paid tribute to “Max”, as he was affectionately known, by way of observing a moment of silence, sending up thunderous applauses or dedicating a song.
During his performance Olatunji “Ola” Yearwood dedicated his 2016 song One Life to Live to Richards, who passed away last week Monday of a heart attack, but not before saying, “We not having no moment of silence. This man used to party hard. We lost a real soldier.” He then called on feters to ‘go down low’ as they took one for the late professor.
In the crowd, the T&T Guardian found the Bhaggans, personal friends of the late Richards. Mary and husband Nairman said, having been there from the inception of the event, they did feel a sense of sadness knowing that this year they would not get to laugh and lime as they usually did with Richards, but came to honour their longtime pal.
“He was such a vibrant man, it is sad, and we were not going to come but decided to last minute just to honour him,” said Mary.
Patrons were also able to pay their respects to Richards by leaving their signatures and comments on a large paper canvas presenting a collage of pictures with the former President at the all-inclusive.
Richards founded the UWI All-Inclusive in 1991 with the prime focus to pump money into the now UWI Development and Endowment Fund that awards scholarships to undergraduates.
At the event, current campus principal Professor Brian Copeland told the T&T Guardian the university is moving towards being more entrepreneurial in nature and not only because of the present state of the economy but because that’s the way the university should have always been. He said in so doing the university becomes more self-sustainable and lead by example that if they can do it, so too can the rest of the nation.
Copeland said what Richards began has now been broadened and is what the university views as economic and social innovation. He said not only the students have benefited from this economic and social innovation, but it has benefited the public through entertainment, it has benefited artistes, promoters and food vendors who get the opportunity to present their cuisine annually at the esteemed event.
UWI All-Inclusive 2018 was as per usual its best. From the ambiance to the aesthetics, it succeeded in its “Secret Garden” concept which really unveils much of the treasured land space on the property.
This year’s theme Floral Chic was well endorsed by patrons, as women donned eye catching floral designs, most choosing free-flowing light dresses.
Though the event begins at 12 noon in the broiling sun, patrons didn’t have to fear their makeup becoming undone or feeling too sticky with sweat as L’Oreal make-up artists were on hand to keep every woman looking fresh-faced.
There were also “refresh booths” which provided hair products, antiperspirants, mouthwashes and other cosmetics to keep everyone feeling and looking at their best throughout the eight-hour long event.
Entertainment began with Raymond Ramnarine and the band Dil-e-Nadan followed by Max Prime and the Ultimate Rejects, Olatunji Yearwood and the band Rhapsody, Alison Hinds, Iwer George, Marge Blackman and soca artiste Voice, Kess Diffenthaller and his band. And to close the 2018 UWI fete experience was soca’s heavy weight champ Machel Montano.
Workers at the Central Market in Port-of-Spain are complaining that the facility is often left “nasty” as they claim that the weekend staff is not pulling their weight.
Tricia Moore, shop steward for the Amalgamated Workers’ Union, yesterday said workers had had enough, adding that the problem has been taking place for quite some time.
Moore, who said her colleagues were fed up, called on the weekend staff to do what they they were paid to do otherwise remain at home.
“What happening now is since early last year we have been noticing that the workload on a Monday is excessive because the market is simply not cleaned on the weekend.
“We are complaining but nothing is being done. What is happening is not right and it has to be corrected one time,” Moore said.
She recommended that the short term staff be “rehired on the weekend” to clean the market after vendors ply their goods on a Saturday and Sunday.
“We coming to work on a Monday and have to do additional work and that is unfair,” Moore added.
But one weekend worker, who did not want to be identified, described the allegations as untrue, saying weekend staff members have always ensured that the market was clean.
“That is just old talk. We always do what we get paid to do,” the worker said.
Deputy Port-of-Spain mayor Hillian Morean also when contacted yesterday said there were systems in place to clean the market on a weekend as there was a compliment of short term staff to do so.
He said the issue may be one which entailed overtime payments as the corporation was not in a position to pay this given the current economic constraints.
But Morean said he was not aware of the problem, saying it was unfortunate that the matter had reached the media before being brought to the attention of management.
Annette Stapleton-Seaforth, the chief executive officer of Port-of-Spain City Corporation when contacted yesterday assured that the matter would be investigated by the market administration.
She said to date she has not had any complaints regarding weekend staff or the market being left dirty.
The newly built Shaw Park Cultural Complex has been without electricity for the past 20 days. The multi-million dollar facility, which is used for several Carnival and cultural events, lost power after several power outages in Tobago in December.
A press release issued by the Office of the Chief Secretary, the division where the Shaw Park Complex falls, stated that the facility became compromised and non-functional upon the return of electricity after a power outage in the lower Scarborough area on December 27, 2017.
“Upon investigations it was discovered that the ring main at the Shaw Park Complex (SPC) was seriously damaged. This has resulted in an extended disruption in power supply to the facility.”
The release said discussions have been on-going with T&TEC and other relevant stakeholders to determine liability and the way forward for repairs.
In the interim a generator will supply power to the SPC at intervals throughout the day, while action have been taken to quickly rectify the situation so that operations can return to full service in the shortest possible time.
The T&T Guardian was also informed that there was no cancellations to any scheduled events at the facility.
The Port Authority is advising the travelling public of the changes in the sailing schedule for today and tomorrow due to the State funeral of the late George Maxwell Richards. The re-scheduling also took place yesterday.
In a statement yesterday, the Port Authority said the changes were necessary due to the existing traffic restrictions implemented in Port-of-Spain arising out of the formalities associated with the State funeral of the former president.
The Board of the Port Authority and the Management of T&T Inter-island Transportation Company Ltd has thanked the public for understanding.
The amended schedule is as follows:
Monday, January 15 2 pm, 3 pm
Tuesday, January 16 2 pm, 3 pm
Wednesday, January 17 12 noon, 1 pm
Departure from Scarborough will remain at 6.30 am.
The cargo vessel, the MV Cabo Star will maintain its daily schedule from Port-of-Spain at 2 pm and from Tobago at 11 pm.
For the second time in two years, the prize structure for the Play Whe International Soca Monarch (ISM) has been cut due to a reduction in Government sponsorship.
This year’s first prize is $300,000 as compared to $500,000 last year, while the second prize has been reduced from $300,000 to $200,000.
The third place and finalists prizes will remain same at $150,000 and $50,000 each, respectively.
Speaking at the launch of the competition at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain yesterday afternoon, Caribbean Prestige Foundation for the Performing Arts chairman Peter Scoon explained that the event, now in its 26th year, had to be scaled back after Government cut its sponsorship by one third.
This year Scoon's organisation received a total of $2.6 million—$1 million from the Ministry of Community Development Culture and the Arts and $1.6 million from the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB).
"Right now we would be operating at a loss, but we are cultural animals so we have to continue to put out the show and develop the entertainment industry," Scoon said as he claimed that there was also a drop in corporate sponsorship for the event.
However, he claimed that the quality of the show would remain the same.
"ISM is the Grammys of soca and as a result of that it is very difficult for me to cut the quality of the show. From the time I start to drop the quality of production, it would become just another fete," Scoon said.
Questioned whether the competition could ever be self-sufficient, Scoon said no.
"At the end of day, the Government is saying that it wants to diversify the economy but one of the ways is through arts, culture and sport," he said.
The ISM is the second private competition to be threatened by the drop in sponsorship, with Southex Event Management cancelling its Chutney Soca Monarch competition before Government clarified its position on the cut in funding.
In addition to the cut in prize money, Scoon said that the semifinals of the competition will be smaller than in previous years as it would only have 30 artists and would not feature a live band to accompany them. There will also be a reduced cast in the final with 10 artists and one breakout artist being selected to compete.
The semifinals, which has traditionally been held at the Arima Velodrome, will now take place at the Queen's Park Savannah on January 25.
Stating that the entire competition costs $5 million to produce, with the semi-finals costing over $500,000 to host, Scoon said: "That (semi-finals) was loss leader. It was really about giving exposure to younger artists."
Asked if soca artistes may boycott the competition due to the reduction in prizes, Scoon and his associate Peter C Lewis, both said no.
Lewis said: "As much as it may seem that the prize might be less, to me the prestige of winning the title is what gets you and takes you places. To look at it from that perspective means that you never came into the business to be a musician, you came here to want to win ah money."
The competition is also being sponsored by Guardian Media Limited (GML), which publishes this newspaper.
Speaking at the event, GML representative Joel Morris said: "I am really glad to see the event is happening once again. I think it is important for GML to support cultural activities especially the ISM because it is a important item on the Carnival agenda."
This year's competition will be dedicated to soca artist Devon Matthews, who died in July, last year.
Dates and Venues for ISM Competition
(Today) January 16- Online Registration starts
January 21- Preliminaries- NLCB Booth, Queen's Park Oval
January 22- Announcement of Semi-Finalists
January 23- Draw for Appearance of Semi-Finalists- Hyatt Regency Hotel
January 25- Semi-Finals-Queen's Park Savannah at 6 pm.
January 26- Announcement of Finalists
February 6- Draw for Appearance of Finalists - Hyatt Regency Hotel
February 9-ISM Finals (Fantastic Friday) at 8 pm
Parents and students of Ramai Trace Hindu School blocked the main road in Debe yesterday morning as they called on the Education Ministers to fulfil their promise to complete and open their school.
For three hours the parents and their children, dressed in school uniform, bearing placards and chanting “We want we school, right now,” protested along SS Erin Road at the Ramai Trace junction. With pallets and vehicles blocking the roadway, several motorists were forced to seek alternative routes.
Crying shame on Education Minister Anthony Garcia and Minister in the Education Ministry Dr Lovell Francis, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, who joined in the protest, called on the school to be opened in honour of the late former president George Maxwell Richards.
He said, “On a day like today when we have funeral ceremonies. I think it is important and it is not a coincidence that Professor Max Richards was an educator, someone who dedicated his life to education and uplifting young people and I make this call to complete the Ramai Trace Hindu School in his honour and his life and his commitment to children and for the education to the young people.”
Moonilal claimed this was a case of discrimination and victimisation as the school is already 95 per cent completed. Following a protest in Port of Spain, Moonilal recalled the ministers had promised to complete the school by September 2017. “We are prepared to march to San Fernando, march to Port of Spain to ensure that we deliver a petition to the Ministry to ensure that they take notice and they complete the school.”
Parent Teacher Association president Sherry-Ann Persad-Bhagwansingh said the 270 students were temporarily relocated in 2015 to a temple at Penal Rock Road while the school was being rebuilt.
Saying that they were fed up with the lies and false promises, she pleaded, “Please have a heart and complete the school for our children. They have been suffering for too long.”
She said children have to travel a long distance to get to school and it is not conducive to learning or teaching as the space is cramped. She said there are also insufficient barricades, ventilation and toilet facilities. “Our children have been getting sick over and over again,” said Persad-Bhagwansingh who vowed to continue protesting until they receive a satisfactory response from the ministers.
In response yesterday, Francis said he was in his constituency when he was informed of the protest. The minister said he visited both the incomplete site and the temple where the pupils are being accommodated at the moment. He said, “So we are aware of the situation and will be taking action to remedy the short order.”
A ministry official also said the school was among the ten schools on the priority list, but negotiations are ongoing with contractors following which construction will recommence.
One of the survivors of the deadly attack that claimed the life of schoolboy Joshua Andrews, 15, was inconsolable at Andrews’ funeral yesterday.
The funeral service was held at Transport and Industrial Workers Union, Eastern Main Road, Laventille a week after his murder which triggered outrage from politicians and a renewed sense of co-operation to pass legislation to curb gang-related crime.
Sitting amongst relatives and close friends, the boy, one of Andrews’ close friends, was seen burying his head in his hands, as he wept uncontrollably.
The boy, Andrews and three other students, were on their way home from the Morvant/Laventille Secondary School on January 8, when gunmen opened fire on the “PH” taxi they were travelling in on the first day of the new school term.
The driver, Devon Fernandez and Andrews were both shot dead. The car exploded and the bodies of the two victims were burnt. None of the survivors have been back to school since the incident.
“These boys will have to live with this for the rest of their lives…it will haunt them,” a relative of one of the survivors’ said.
There was some disquiet when the school’s acting principal Emileen Hassanali announced the names of the survivors. An aunt of one of the schoolboys said Hassanali’s decision was highly “irresponsible and insensitive.”
“These boys are still alive and their identities should have been protected because we don’t want the gunmen to come for them now and kill them. What the principal get by calling out the names?” the aunt asked.
An officer assigned to the Inter-Agency Task Force, who was at the funeral, also agreed that the names of the boys should not have been announced.
“These same boys can be witnesses, if any arrests are made and if it reaches before the court. But, maybe, they just want to drive home what they are going through. They don’t know better.”
Hassanali not only disclosed the names of the students who survived but also gave an update on each one of them. One, she said, was undergoing surgery as she spoke, while another, asked his mother to be transferred to another school where “he would not hear any gunshots.”
“These children are very traumatised and very scared to come to school. Even parents are calling to find out if it is safe…this is the reality that we are faced with,” Hassanali said.
The American Chamber of Commerce of T&T (AmCham T&T) has congratulated President Anthony Carmona for the appointment of the Procurement Board and its chairman, the Procurement Regulator.
In a statement yesterday, AmCham said they extended their best wishes to all members of the Board.
“We believe that this is a step in the right direction as public procurement regulation is necessary in creating a more competitive process in public sector purchasing, and achieving the best value for tax payer’s money. This, we believe, is even more critical as the Government continues to deal with challenging economic condition.”
AmCham added that the country needed to remain be diligent in working towards achieving accountability and transparency in public office.
“AmCham T&T knows that this is an important part in the operationalisation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act. AmCham T&T has been an avid champion through its participation in the Private Sector Civil Society Group (PSCSG), which has advocated tirelessly for better processes and accountability in public procurement.”
AmCham urged the Government that now that the Board had been appointed the office must be appropriately resourced so that it would effectively execute its critical mandate.