Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 31st 2016 Contents GML ENTERPRISE DESK
President of the Prison Officers Association
(POA) Ceron Richards is threatening to take the
state to court if something is not done soon
about deplorable conditions at the Port-of-Spain
Richards told the T&T Guardian this may be
the only option as the Occupational Health and
Safety Authority (OSHA) is playing games with
the health and safety of prison officers and inmates
at the facility.
He said the POA has written several letters to
the authority over the years, and has also had
several conversations with former chairman Gaek-
wad Ramoutar, but only received frivolous excuses
about why they cannot address the issues.
"There is an OSH board constituted by the
Government, paid by the state and they are not
functioning. They refused to go into Carrera,
MSP and they refusing to go into Port-of-Spain,"
Richards said in a telephone interview, adding it
is their view the facility is not fit to be inhabited
under current conditions.
Asked if Commissioner Sterling Stewart knew
of the situation, Richards said everybody knows
but they are playing games.
"I am telling you right now, the Prison Officers
Association is looking at seeking legal redress for
Carrera and we have sought legal redress for
Remand Prison. We have an OSH matter before
the court for Golden Grove Prison and we will
be seeking legal redress for MSP and Tobago
prison as well," he said.
Richards said the Tobago prison is even worse
"It is a sight to be seen. You should go and see
that prison, it is the worst. Tobago prison is
breaking all the OSH laws in T&T."
Facility overrun by vermin
The T&T Guardian understands the Food Serv-
ice Department is a major source of concern. A
prison source sent photos showing large rats and
cats inhabiting the ration room/diet shed and
kitchen where inmates prepare meals daily. The
walls and floors are covered with mildew and the
drains filled with moss. The source, who provided
the photos to support their claims, said this was
not the only problem area.
"The prison is filled with vermin. We have had
to deal with pigeon mites, cat fleas, flies, roaches
and leptospirosis," the source said, claiming one
officer is believed to have died from complications
related to leptospirosis two years ago, after alleged-
ly coming into contact with contaminated items,
but the matter was covered up.
Prisoners and officers alike are plagued by res-
piratory conditions, stomach problems and skin
conditions believed to be connected to the con-
ditions under which the food is prepared, the
"Officers have to continue to take sick leave
for lengthy periods at times because they keep
getting sick. This is overbearing now and nobody
is doing anything about it. The entire Port-of-
Spain prison needs to be knocked down and built
over from scratch," the source said, noting officers
are continually placed in financial difficulty due
to the medical bills which are not fully catered
to by their medical plan.
The CPO, the source added, visited the prison
two years ago and said she could not comprehend
how they operate under such conditions. What s
worse, the source claimed, officials from the Port-
of-Spain City Corporation Health Department
and Fire Service visit the prison annually to make
health and safety checks and still pass the facil-
ity.Asked if Stewart was aware of the situation,
the source claimed he does not even visit the
"He (Stewart) is aware of the conditions but
he never comes. The only time he was present
was when the Attorney General (Faris Al-Rawi)
called for the big search in February," the source
"That Port-of-Spain prison is a reject, only
the superintendents and intelligence officers does
pass through there."
The source suggested that only President
Anthony Carmona, in his capacity as Command-
er-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, may be able to
influence the change needed.
Asked about the complaints raised by the
source, Richards said the OSH board does not
care about dealing with this serious matter.
"Under the OSH Act of 2004 (amended), all
those complaints were made to the OSH board
regarding Port-of-Spain prison and these com-
plaints have been refused. I can show you the
many letters the association has written, nobody
seems to care. They have constructively refused
by virtue of the excuses they continue to give,"
He confirmed the prison was rat infested and
said possible health issues which may arise from
this were compounded by the fact that there is
an inadequate health plan for officers.
"The prison service has no good health insurance
for prison officers. All these terms and conditions
of employment is what the association intends
to treat with going forward in talks with the CPO
in the next round of negotiations," he said.
But he said a good health insurance plan cannot
"It is not ideal for Port-of-Spain to remain as
is and then we simply treat with it by getting a
proper health plan. That should not be the direc-
tion going forward," Richards said.
"The direction going forward is to fix Port-of-
Spain prison and all other divisions that urgently
needs fixing, not to look to remedy the condition
by providing health insurance. Are we then legit-
imising the deplorable conditions?"
He said the OSH board of T&T must do its
Continues on Page A9
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, May 31, 2016
MAY 27, 2016
May 27, 2016
May 27, 2016
May 27, 2016
May 27, 2016
Rat invasion at PoS prison
A rat scurries across the floor of the kitchen where inmates prepare meals daily.
....Officers threaten to sue
Links Archive May 30th 2016 June 1st 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page