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Where are the safe spaces?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

It happened on the first day of the July/August school vacation, in a space frequented by families. Sunday evening’s bloodbath on the Chaguaramas Boardwalk indicates a disturbing new trend in this country’s ever-worsening crime and violence crisis. That gunmen were able to so easily open fire indiscriminately, killing three people and injuring many others, including an eight-year-old boy, suggests that T&T is running out of safe spaces.

Less than a week earlier, just days before the end of the school term, members of rival criminal gangs waged a gun battle outside the Success/Laventille Secondary School. Luckily, no students or staff were hurt in that incident but when the smoke cleared, the danger which they faced was clear in the bullet holes on the school wall and a nearby vehicle.

These are just two of the many incidents of frequent gun violence that take place several times a day in a nation under siege by gangsters and other varieties of violent criminals. Increasingly, it seems, the country’s security infrastructure is incapable of responding to and dealing decisively with rampant crime.

In the case of the Success/Laventille school, it is all too easy that the school, by its very location in a crime hot spot, right in the middle of territories claimed by warring criminal gangs, is vulnerable to such incidents.

However, while there were plans to transform the Chaguaramas Boardwalk into a hotspot, the aim was for a place of fun and leisure, with all the requisite amenities, anchored by 1400 feet of beachfront walkway.

Instead, criminals have now transformed it into a place of bloodshed and trauma—a place where many individuals may now seek to avoid for months to come or possibly never set foot back on.

Meanwhile, in the face of all of this violence, it is hard to ignore the unrealistically optimistic social media posts by the Ministry of National Security counting down to the launch of a National Crime Prevention Programme. Eight days to go and no public expectation that this latest initiative overshadowed by too many past failures will succeed.

T&T is running out of safe spaces. The nation awaits an appropriate response from the major heads in law enforcement and national security.

Improvements in health

Some important goals have been achieved in T&T’s public health sector, for which the Ministry of Health and the medical professionals involved should be applauded.

Thanks to some improvements in practices and policies, there has been a reduction to zero in the number of maternal deaths for this year so far. Another major accomplishment is the 70 per cent reduction in flu cases for the 2017/18 season. For this, the agents in the public health sector must receive some kudos.


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