The warnings on the use of fireworks in T&T have been picked up and put down several years without any major decisions.
At the close of every year, animal lovers have sounded their concerns and disgust about the use of the explosives which creates noise at a decibel that is annoying at best but even dangerous for dogs and other animals, many of which run away, sometimes into the paths of moving vehicles.
A few years ago the Zoological Society complained about the use of fireworks at the Queen’s Park Savannah for Independence Day celebrations for the same reasons – that animals were being disturbed to the point of restlessness that was not deemed safe.
The animals apart, there have been countless warnings about the dangers posed by the celebratory devices. They are, after all, explosives.
Now, at the departure of a year that has been described by President Paula-Mae Weekes as “an annus horribilis—a year of disaster and misfortune, with more hardship, illness and death than at any time in recent memory,” 25 people of Quarry Street have been left homeless due to the use of fireworks and lanterns to celebrate the new year.
Gone, as always, were proper reasoning and adherence to the cautionary statements shared over and over again that using these things within residential areas poses immense dangers.
If the raging fire that destroyed four homes in the wee hours of New Year’s Day is not enough evidence that more stringent laws and enforcement of them are needed, then we fear nothing else will.
And on this occasion, the nine-day wonder culture cannot be allowed to dominate our reactions.
For those families who are currently trying to decipher how to restart their lives, to publicly debate this matter for just long enough until another topic sweeps it away is a show of disregard for their misfortune.
The Attorney General would do well to strike while the iron is hot by bringing legislation that would make the use of fireworks and other such potentially dangerous celebratory devices in residential areas punishable by penalties harsh enough to serve as a deterrent.
If what he has posted on Twitter is any indication, it appears that he has already begun, albeit with a focus more on the danger it poses to animals.
In his words, “I spent my New Years’ night making sure my dog survived the night. I’ve already drafted a bill which cabinet has approved for public consultation.”
Fireworks bring joy and add to the feeling of change every year. We certainly do not believe that it should be banned entirely but the uncontrolled and indiscriminate use of them cannot be allowed to continue.
Instead, we should encourage their use in community fields, large open spaces and waterfronts where the dangers of homes and animals can be minimised.
We trust that the Government will move quickly on the AG’s draft legislation so that what occurred in Quarry Street will never happen again.