At least one business group is calling for more soldiers to be deployed for patrols during the State of Emergency.
The T&T Regiment has been noticeably absent from the streets since the SoE was announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley last Saturday.
A high ranking source told Guardian Media that just under 50 out of 5,000 soldiers came out to patrol on Tuesday night.
A few soldiers were spotted at Lady Hailes, Avenue in San Fernando on Tuesday night but on Monday and Wednesday, there was no visible army presence in the southern city.
Speaking to Guardian Media on Thursday, president of the Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce Kiran Singh expressed disappointment by what appears to be the lack of support from the TTDF.
“We are calling on the Chief of Defence Staff to immediately deploy more soldiers to help with patrols,” Singh said.
He added, “During an SoE, military forces are in control. I would have liked to see more patrols by the Defence Force. We don’t have to protect ourselves from an international invasion but we need the army to protect ourselves from ourselves.”
He also said the presence of the army will also deter looters and burglars.
“We have already had a burglary at a jewellery store on Charlotte Street. In San Fernando, we are thankful that the TTPS is diligent in their duties and crime is at an all-time low. We are thankful for the TTPS and the Police Commissioner but we are also saying that if the army is out there with the police, we will have more success because there is greater fear from the public about army patrols, rather than police patrols,” Singh said.
Thousands of police officers have been doing frequent patrols since the SOE was announced. An average of 77 roadblocks takes place nightly while frequent patrols have been ongoing in the main city centres to ward off any looters or burglars prowling around shuttered stores.
Earlier this week, the T&T Regiment announced that a soldier who threatened to beat people if they broke the curfew, has been confined in the barracks.
Several videos circulating showed the soldier in uniform warning the public that they could “get it” if they were caught outside after curfew.
Several attempts were made to contact the Chief of Defence Staff of the TTDF Air Commodore Darryl Daniel but calls and messages went unanswered. Sherron Manswell, Public Affairs Officer of the Defence Force said the TTDF will be issuing a response shortly.
Contacted for comment, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said, “It is not appropriate for me to comment. Refer to Minister of National Security.”
He added, “My focus would be on what I have control of—almost every police officer is involved. Vacation stopped. Over 450 patrols daily and dozens of operations conducted nightly along with a minimum of 70 roadblocks every 24 hours.”
Efforts to contact Minister Fitzgerald Hinds for comments proved futile as calls went unanswered.