Public consultation on a draft bill seeking to regulate the use of fireworks will begin this coming week, according to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
Al-Rawi said a bill and policy paper has already been drafted and will address the management and legality of fireworks.
He said the bill was taken to the cabinet in December, but the Cabinet decided it should be subject to consultation to allow stakeholders to be heard.
The AG broke the news of the draft bill on Twitter on New Year’s Day in response to a tweet.
On Sunday he gave Guardian Media more details about it.
According to Al-Rawi, the issue requires consultation because it is a heartfelt matter with polarized views.
“We proposed a policy which involves a significant amendment on the fines, the use of fix penalty provisions, tickets etc…There would be regulated hours for use of fireworks on particular days and that any exceptions to usage would be done by way of application,” Al-Rawi said.
“Our policy speaks to regulating the use of fireworks in an area such that vulnerable people and entities and animals are protected, whilst other people can express themselves as they do with fireworks.”
The Attorney General said he is looking forward to putting amended firework legislation in place because, as seen in a recent fire in East Port-of-Spain, the unregulated use of fireworks/lanterns can lead to disaster.
According to Section 99 of the Summary Offences Act, “Any person who throws, casts, sets fire to, or lets off any fireworks within any town is liable to a fine of $1,000.”
Section 100 of the Summary Offences Act says, “Any person who throws, casts, sets fire to or lets off any fireworks into, in or upon any other street or anywhere within 60 feet of the centre of a street is subject to a $400 fine.”
Over the years activists and even ordinary citizens have complained about the disruptions caused by the indiscriminate use of fireworks to the elderly and sick.
Animal owners and groups have also lamented the effect fireworks have on pets and the measures they have to go to secure and protect their animals.
Just a couple of days ago the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission warned the public about the danger lanterns and fireworks can pose to electrical infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Ashmead Ghany of Fire Power Fireworks said he has no issue with the bill seeking to regulate firework use.
He said his company has long suggested that fireworks ought to be used only at specific times.
“We have no issues with that whatsoever. So, if they can only be used at designated times, that’s perfect, rather than people being indiscriminate and just shooting whenever. We support that, from that perspective,” he said.
“We also agree that staying away from medical institutions, hospitals, we are in agreement with that as well. There’s no issue with that. That is common sense.”
On New Year’s day, more than twenty people at Quarry Street, in Port-of-Spain, were left homeless by a fire started by a sky lantern.