Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 27th 2015 Contents A5
Friday, February 27, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Govt moves to
ease up on
From April, Government buildings will be
accessible to service dogs assisting the visually
impaired and other differently abled people using
such animals, Food Production Minister Devant
Maharaj said yesterday.
He announced that at the weekly Government
media briefing, detailing a guide dog programme
for T&T which Cabinet has approved.
Within the programme, he also listed concessions
which would be granted to appropriate people for
procurement and equipment for the maintenance
of service dogs for the visually impaired.
He said that would assist people suffering from
epilepsy, autism and diabetes who also used service
Maharaj said the situation would be legislated
by law soon but the accessibility to Government
buildings was being granted in the interim in the
next 60 days.
He added: "The ministry recognises that dif-
ferently-abled persons are equal citizens of this
nation and ought to enjoy equal access to the
services available to citizens in keeping with our
"Research shows the visually-impaired persons
employed at the T&T Blind Welfare Association
have limited mobility throughout the country and
limited public access to Government offices and
"As such, Cabinet has approved the implemen-
tation of a policy to allow for access of services
dogs used by the visually impaired and disabled
persons in government buildings and the granting
of concessions to appropriate individuals for the
procurement of equipment for the maintenance
of service dogs. This programme is the first of its
kind in the Caribbean."
He said technical advice on concessions was
provided by the T&T Guide Dog Association,
founded by Dr Subash Sharma and students of
the UWI's Optometry Department,
"Research conducted by Dr Sharma and his
students reveals that dogs can also be trained as
assistance dogs which can be used for the visually
impaired, the hearing impaired, persons with phys-
ical disabilities, children with autism, persons with
epilepsy and persons with diabetes," he added.
Maharaj made it clear the Government was not
providing such guide dogs. However, to aid the
programme, he said, Government would waive
the 15 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) and 40
per cent customs duty on the importation of
service dogs for use by the visually impaired and
Also needed would be equipment for the dogs
and trainers, such as harnesses, sensitisation ses-
sions for persons with disability on the use of
assistance dog and with dog owners willing to
breed Labradors and other dogs deemed best suited
for use as assistance dogs
Sessions would also extend to persons wishing
to act as "foster parents" for the dogs acquired
and persons interested in becoming potential train-
ers of the dogs selected.
Part of concessions also is the contracting of
an expert and experienced trainer in the field to
conduct the necessary training to persons who
would then train guide dogs locally.
The guide Dog programme includes a national
orientation and awareness campaign targeting,
but not limited to visually-impaired citizens,
guardians of visually-impaired citizens, T&T Blind
Welfare Association, T&T Guide Dog Association,
permanent secretaries, senior public officials and
Customs and Excise.
Pandemonium broke out outside the
More Money Pawnshop and Jewelry Store
yesterday as hundreds of customers with
their pawn tickets in hand demanded they
get their monies for their pieces of gold,
which they had pawned for fast cash.
Pounding on the shop's glass windows
and doors, hurling obscenities were too
much for staff, police and private security
personnel to cope.
Backup was called in and by 10.30 am a
contingent of heavily-armed officers from
the Inter Agency Task Force arrived on the
Host of Crime Watch Ian Alleyne was
also on hand attempting to quell the crowd
and restore law and order.
He told about 300 pawn ticket holders
they were going to be seen by management
and assured them of a good settlement.
However, those words from Alleyne
seemed to be quickly forgotten as the rowdy
crowd grew more impatient and began push-
ing themselves towards the shop's glass
Several attempts were made by police
officers to push them off but that only
caused intense confrontation between offi-
cers and customers.
One customer, Reynold Hernandez, was
jostled by police but was defended by his
sister Kay and others. Alleyne intervened,
as well, pulling Hernandez away from the
officers and again pleaded with the crowd
to calm down.
The store opened for business yesterday
morning at about 8 am but would only
accommodate pawn ticket holders.
From as early as 6 am people were seen
gathering outside the Henry Street store
waiting patiently for it to open its doors.
Initially there was a number system in place
but by mid-morning it fell apart as people
became rowdy and verbally abusive.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian, director
of operations Wayne Griffith explained it
was agreed that pawners would be able to
get 90 per cent value of their pawn.
"The settlement plan was agreed to $200
per gram. It would take some time to pay
out the final settlements because we have
a database of 2,500 customers."
Griffith said he believed that by Monday
they would start payouts but added that it
would be done systematically in alphabetical
He added that payments would be made
by cheques and people should look out for
a public notice which would be published
in the print media.
Pawn ticket holder, Reena Marajh, said
she pawned over 11 pieces of jewelry for a
cash loan geared towards payment of medical
bills. After she was dealt with by staff, Mara-
jh of Morvant would only receive $4,038.
"It real sad to know that all my expensive
jewelry worth tens of thousands of dollars
gone and I only getting back little money.
i have been doing business at this shop for
the past two years," Marajh said.
Another customer from Cunupia, who
did not want her name published for security
reasons said she has been pawning jewelry
for over 40 years, firstly at another popular
jewelry store and estimated her losses to be
well over $250,000.
"A lot of sentimental pieces of gold gone.
Pieces that my mother had from little girl
growing up... good gold. It hard. My husband
recently bought new wedding diamond
bands for us and I pawned that and now
it's gone. My wedding ring alone cost him
$21,000. It real hard."
The shop was robbed over the weekend
with the thieves stealing an estimated $15
million in cash and jewelry.
Chaos erupts at
robbed pawn shop
...as customers demand $$ for stolen items
Angry customers gather outside the More Money Pawn Shop, Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, demanding refunds yesterday, after the
business place was robbed last weekend. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Director of Operations Wayne Griffith
describes the weekend's jewelry heist
as a "well-orchestrated and organised"
"The entire security system was
breached and the thieves were able to
cut through concrete and steel to
access the vault.
"Nine vaults were cut apart and all
the pledges (pieces of jewelry) stolen.
Sophisticated tools and equipment
were used for this job. Imagine the
thieves were able to bypass the alarm
system and knock out all the smoke
alarms," he added.
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