Cops probe TSTT CCTV camera upgrade deal

Po­lice are prob­ing al­leged ex­or­bi­tant costs in­volved in the up­grade of CCTV cam­eras dur­ing 2011 to 2014 - and in­ves­ti­ga­tions are al­so be­ing con­duct­ed in­to com­plaints that for­eign “spir­i­tu­al­ists” op­er­at­ing lo­cal­ly are fleec­ing some na­tion­als, Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young yes­ter­day con­firmed.

Young con­firmed the probes dur­ing yes­ter­day’s Stand­ing Fi­nance Com­mit­tee meet­ing which met for the third day of de­lib­er­a­tions on ex­pen­di­ture and oth­er items in 2020 Bud­get doc­u­ments.

 

Un­der Se­cu­ri­ty Min­istry ex­pen­di­ture items, UNC MP Roodal Mooni­lal had ques­tioned Young about a set­tle­ment with TSTT on the is­sue of pay­ment for CCTV cam­eras.

This was in con­nec­tion with a claim TSTT had made which Cab­i­net didn’t agree with. Young said pro­posed fi­nal and full set­tle­ment was de­cid­ed up­on to the tune of $200 mil­lion and this was of­fered to TSTT.

Young said new ten­ders were sought and a new provider will re­place the TSTT arrange­ment at a cheap­er price.

But Mooni­lal ex­pressed con­cern that TSTT would still own the CCTV fi­bre and it would be hard to phase TSTT out of the sit­u­a­tion.

 

Young stressed that Gov­ern­ment had re­ject­ed the “out­ra­geous” sum sought by TSTT and the com­pa­ny wasn’t the on­ly provider of in­ter­net fi­bre. He said TSTT was charg­ing be­tween $11,000 and $14,000 per cam­era and oth­er providers were charg­ing $3,000.

“I went to Cab­i­net and a new ser­vice provider was ap­proved,” he added.

Mooni­lal said the TSTT cam­era up­grade was done un­der the Patrick Man­ning PNM ad­min­is­tra­tion. But Young heat­ed­ly said that was un­true. He said the cam­era up­grade was dur­ing the 2011-14 pe­ri­od “... and that’s where the ex­or­bi­tant in­creased costs came in­to play and are cur­rent­ly the sub­ject of a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

But on an­oth­er is­sue, Young thanked UNC MP Su­ruj Ram­bachan for in­form­ing his min­istry and the Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er of a sit­u­a­tion where peo­ple are al­leged­ly be­ing fleeced by for­eign so-called “spir­i­tu­al­ists.”

Ram­bachan, who spoke about the is­sue in the SFC, said peo­ple are com­ing in­to T&T and op­er­at­ing as spir­i­tu­al­ists and are be­ing fa­cil­i­tat­ed by lo­cals.

Ram­bachan said, “They’re rip­ping off peo­ple all over T&T. They’re fraud­u­lent. There are full-page ads in the news­pa­per on what they’re do­ing. I’m won­der­ing what process­es are be­ing em­ployed at Im­mi­gra­tion when they al­low in­to T&T such peo­ple and with­out prop­er ex­am­i­na­tion of what they’re about.”

Ram­bachan lat­er told the T&T Guardian that peo­ple had come to his of­fice and told him they were ap­proached by such peo­ple on High Street, San Fer­nan­do and the per­sons had sought to fleece them by claim­ing there was some­thing wrong in their lives and they (spir­i­tu­al­ists) could help. He said the for­eign per­sons came from both In­dia and Africa and he’d writ­ten Young and the Co­Pon it.

Af­ter Ram­bachan spoke in the SFC, Young said Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers will con­tin­ue to do their du­ty and scru­ti­nise sit­u­a­tions and any­one caught flout­ing the law would be found and de­port­ed. He again ac­knowl­edged Ram­bachan’s let­ter to him and the CoP, adding, “We’re ac­tive­ly look­ing at it.”

UNC MP Rudy In­dars­ingh al­so re­vealed to Young that an in­fes­ta­tion of rats and pi­geons is caus­ing lep­tospiro­sis cas­es at Re­mand Yard and Gold­en Grove pris­ons.

Young said it was a very se­ri­ous cir­cum­stance that needs to be probed and has to be ad­dressed, if so.

 - Gail Alexander

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