Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 25th 2015 Contents GAIL ALEXANDER
Action will be taken if it is found
that Monday s widespread police road-
block exercise was a deliberate attempt
to "suffer" people as an industrial rela-
tions strategy, National Security Min-
ister Carl Alfonso has warned.
He said so in a statement to the Senate
yesterday as he addressed the shutdown
that occurred across various parts of
T&T s roads and highways due to the
mounting of simultaneous roadblocks
by the police.
Alfonso said acting Police Commis-
sioner Ann-Marie Alleyne-Daly had
assured him measures would be taken
to ensure there was no repeat of the
situation and, as part of arrangements,
to ensure that the authority to initiate
road check exercises would reside now
only with the divisional commanders
and heads of sections and branches of
the Police Service. (See page A6)
He added: "I give the undertaking
that Monday s police exercise will not
be repeated and if ever there s the need
for such comprehensive and widespread
policing activities, the frustration, anger
and anxiety caused for thousands on
Monday will not happen again.
"What happened (Monday) had a
very deep negative impact on the people
of T&T... working people, young chil-
dren, elderly citizens, differently-abled
citizens, visitors arriving or due to leave
... everyone felt the impact."
Alfonso said that immediately upon
being apprised very early that there was
an issue, Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar mandated that immediate
steps be taken to identify the source of
the simultaneous roadblocks, undertake
to immediately put a stop to them and
clear the roads so citizens could continue
on to work, school or return home.
He said people missed work, children
missed school and exams and there
were reports of children becoming
extremely car-sick because of the length
of time they were caught in traffic. He
said some elderly people also experi-
enced "untold discomfort and suffering
because they were caught in traffic,
where there was no way to return home
and little movement forward."
"Some differently-abled persons
unable to remain in one position for
long periods experienced untold dis-
comfort and pain.
"Medical institutions had to cancel
important medical procedures because
nurses and doctors were caught in the
"Caribbean Airlines, for the first time
in recent memory, had to issue a traffic
advisory informing passengers to make
contact to reschedule their flights. Busi-
ness organisations made clear the level
of losses T&T experienced on Monday
was unacceptable," he added.
Alfonso said he mentioned all that
"because none of us can really, truly
understand the level of frustration
caused by a police exercise, the extent
of which even the police executive was
"With the Prime Minister s guidance
and continuous contact, interventions
were made, the roadblocks were cleared,
but let me state or rather repeat the
Honourable Prime Minister s urgings,
What citizens experienced on Monday
must never happen again.
"This isn t a situation which will be
condoned. Full accountability for what
occurred must be identified," he added.
The acting Police Commission-
er s statement on Monday s simul-
taneous roadblocks worryingly
suggests that a large section of the
police service went "rogue" and
held T&T to ransom because they
are disgruntled, Independent Lib-
eral party (ILP) leader Jack Warner
He warned yesterday of the impli-
cations of Monday s widespread
police road blocks.
"Our country was brought to a
dangerous precipice on Monday...
there s no one to blame except the
People s Partnership (PP) Govern-
ment," Warner said in a statement.
"The terrifying reality was revealed
when acting Commissioner of Police
Ann Marie Alleyne-Daly declared
the police service executive had no
prior knowledge of and distanced
itself from the nationwide roadblock
"That the TTPS management had
no clue as to what is taking place
inside its organisation is depressing.
It s an indictment on the national
security intelligence apparatus and
on the National Security Ministry,
the minister and the National Secu-
rity Council headed by the Prime
Warner said, "In 1970, a group of
soldiers disgruntled over their work-
ing conditions staged an uprising.
In 1990, the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen,
disgruntled with the government,
staged a bloody insurrection...15
years later, police officers, disgruntled
with the terms and conditions of
their employment, used the powers
of their office, apparently on their
own volition, to hold the nation to
He added, "While it s safe to say
the police had no intentions like the
insurrectionists of 1970 and 1990,
what was revealed by their actions
is that the possibility exists for men
and women, armed by the State and
clothed with powers, to destabilise
T&T because they are unhappy.
"Motorists and commuters caught
in Monday s roadblock must be
commended for keeping their cool
amidst their frustration and anger.
Thankfully, nothing happened to
escalate the situation."
He said it would have taken only
"one second and one bad judgment
call by one individual to push things
over the edge on Monday."
Noting that similar action by the
police last Friday resulted in the
same kind of chaos, Warner said,
"The Minister and the Government
were unresponsive. So too were
TTPS senior officers.
"We know Monday s disruptions
weren t sanctioned by the TTPS
executive, but what about the co-
ordinated disruptions on Friday? Did
senior TTPS officers not learn any-
thing from Friday? Did they inquire
at all into that incident?"
"Did the acting Commissioner
and her seniors call in the divisional
heads or other ranks and rebuke or
caution them not to let Friday s
events be repeated? It doesn t seem
"Had they done this and been
proactive, Monday s drama wouldn t
have been allowed to occur. For their
inaction following Friday s disrup-
tions, the TTPS executive cannot be
absolved, forgiven or even dismissed
with a tender slap on the wrist."
He asked if Minister of National
Security Carl Alfonso, having seen
what happened on Friday last, had
broached the subject in any serious
way with the acting Commission-
"It doesn t seem so...Did the
Prime Minister, as head of the
National Security Council, discuss
in any serious way the events of Fri-
day with her minister? It doesn t
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Members of the Shiv Shakti dance group perform during an
interfaith service to commemorate the Industrial Court's 50th
anniversary at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port-of-Spain
yesterday. SEE PAGE A8 PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Alfonso on if roadblocks were deliberate:
Action will be taken
On the ministry's request for an im-
mediate investigation into how the si-
multaneous roadblocks could have
occurred to create a virtual shutdown
of roadways, he said the acting Police
Commissioner has assured the probe
would be done.
"She has provided further assurances
there would be no repeat (on Tuesday)
of the actions which caused such dis-
ruptions. She advised that from time to
time divisional commanders are in-
structed to have what are referred to as
'total policing days,' one of our anti-
"(But) the acting commissioner was
clear that the operations undertaken on
Monday didn't 'speak to the essence
and spirit of this initiative.'"
He said the acting CoP acknowledged
ongoing wage negotiations with the
Chief Personnel Officer and "she indi-
cated an investigation will be launched
to determine whether yesterday's ac-
tion is linked in any way to the current
"The investigation will be spear-
headed by acting Assistant Commis-
sioner Vincel Edwards," Alfonso said.
"We mustn't allow ourselves to be-
lieve that because we are at war with
criminals the people must be subjected
to such undue inconvenience and frus-
tration. We must not allow ourselves to
believe that because drastic action
must at times be taken, the law-abiding
and innocent must bear the brunt of
strenuous police exercises," he said.
Jack: Rogue cops held T&T to ransom
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