T&T News


Allegations of Bribery & Favouritism Over Bananas

17 Apr 2014
Traders are alleging bribery and favouritism by the Ministry of Food Production after certain banana importers yesterday received their shipment of bananas after the fruits were ordered sent back by Quarantine officials on Tuesday because of the presence of mealy bugs. On Tuesday, a large shipment of lacatan bananas from St Vincent and the Grenadines were ordered sent back at Queen's Wharf when, on inspection, mealy-bugs were found in a few boxes. According to one trader, all the bananas were replaced on the boat Tuesday night, but yesterday morning some were removed and released to a few traders. "The same bananas they rejected yesterday (Tuesday), they took some off the boat and put it on the wharf and gave their friends or those who have the money to pay, and left the rest on board saying they are not passing them," she alleged. A Customs and Excise Division official said as far as they were aware, when the Plant Quarantine officers discovered the mealy-bugs, the boxes of bananas that were on the wharf were returned to the boat and none were removed.


Trinidad & Tobago Newsday
www.newsday.co.tt


Car Stolen by Man Who was Later Shot by Police

17 Apr 2014
Naim Dean, the man shot dead by police on Friday night near his Glencoe home, had earlier in the day robbed a woman and her soldier boyfriend of their Nissan Navara vehicle, St James CID officers said yesterday. The robbery victims had initially reported that their vehicle was stolen at gunpoint while they were parked at Point Cumana at 6 p.m. Friday. The woman said she went to the St James CID when she recognised Dean as the man who robbed her after she saw his photo in the Sunday Express. On Friday night around 7.30 p.m. Dean, 21, and a group of men were stopped by officers of the Rapid Response Unit as they attempted to exit the La Horquette Valley Road in Glencoe. Dean was reportedly ordered out of the SUV and while being searched by a special reserve police officer, he reportedly brushed aside the officer's hand and ran off. Police said they ran after him and caught him but during a scuffle with the officers Dean allegedly stabbed one of them following which the officer opened fire on the boy. Dean's relatives have said that he was gunned down "in cold blood".


Trinidad Express
www.trinidadexpress.com


Shot Once in the Back from 3 Feet Away

15 Apr 2014
Naim Dean's grandmother Janice Simon yesterday described his killing by a police officer as a cold blooded murder. She made the comment yesterday after his autopsy revealed he was shot once in the back as he tried to run from police officers on Friday in Carenage. Simon said the family had little faith in the system and would be seeking justice by retaining a lawyer. Simon said she was informed by pathologist Dr. Valery Alexandrov that Dean was in a crouching position when he was struck by the bullet, which pierced his lungs. He was approximately three feet away, Alexandrov told them. The autopsy contradicts the police reports which stated that Dean was shot once in the chest during a scuffle with Dean.


The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper
www.guardian.co.tt


German Tourist Dies in Auto Crash in Tobago

15 Apr 2014
German national Renate Dowden died following an accident in Parlatuvier, Tobago, on Monday evening. Two other passengers, also German, 49-year-old Nadja Kiss­leng and her 16-year-old son, Leo, remain hospitalised at the Scarborough General Hospital in a stable condition. Ms Kissleng suffered chest injuries while her son suffered injuries to the head and sustained a broken left hand. Officials of the Tourism Division are also monitoring the progress of the tourists. The tourists arrived from Germany on Monday afternoon and were to spend three days at the guest house of Dale Wallace, and two additional days in Trinidad. Public relations officer of the Tobago Fire Service David Thomas said the incident occurred shortly before 6 p.m. on Monday when Dowden lost control of her car while driving down a hill.


Trinidad Express
www.trinidadexpress.com


Venezuelan Law Firm Retained to Defend T&T Imams

15 Apr 2014
Families of three Imams have retained the services of a Venezuelan law firm at a cost of more than US$20,000 (TT$129,200) in an effort to free them from a Caracas jail, where they have been for the last 28 days. Imams Salam Abdul, Hamza Mohammad and Sheikh Hamid have been detained while attempting to process visa applications for a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia Imtiaz Mohammed, a representative of the families and president of the Islamic Missionaries Guild yesterday said the lawyers will meet with the Imams today and they have already started collecting the evidence to support the Imams’ innocence. On Thursday last, Mohammed and two brothers of Imam Mohammad — Karamath and Fariaz Mohammed — flew to Venezuela where they met with the council in the TT High Commission and were given an update on the matter with the Imams. “The council told us he requested twice to see all the detainees, the first request was made to the Venezuela Foreign Affairs and the second was to Sebin headquarters (the jail). Those requests were refused.


Trinidad & Tobago Newsday
www.newsday.co.tt


We Are Not Going Anywhere

13 Apr 2014
The Environmental Management Authority's (EMA) findings on the scores of dead mullet washed up along the south-western coastline early this month led to more financial losses for already cash-strapped fishermen. President of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) Gary Aboud said state-owned Petrotrin stopped the $1,200 compensation to the boat owners on the same day the EMA reported that the mullet did not die from oil contamination. Aboud once again challenged the authorities to come clean on the real impact of the December 17 oil spill along the south-western coastline. Aboud is defending himself amid claims that he staged the fish kill to get compensation. "Many citizens are selfish and self-serving. I will not respond to corrupted, retarded and ignorant people. God help them," he said. Aboud, who has already been arrested for his defiance of the police during protests for the fishermen after the spill, says he is willing to do it again. "The Government is hoping that we go away, but we are not going anywhere," he said.


The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper
www.guardian.co.tt


Why Are Dead Fish Washing Ashore in La Brea Only?

12 Apr 2014
Families living in coastal villages on the south-west peninsula are demanding answers after a dead dolphin washed ashore. The residents claimed that after the free meals stopped and most of the black crude was mopped up in the wake of last December's oil spills in the Gulf of Paria, they were forgotten by State-owned Petrotrin and the Government. "Now we see a dead dolphin washed ashore. The authorities keep saying it has nothing to do with the chemical used to clean up the beaches, but I want them to answer the question — why are dead fish washing ashore in La Brea only?" asked resident Oneca Branker-Showers. Branker-Showers said children continue to fall sick and their cries seem to be falling on deaf ears. "We feel like we are shouting and no one is hearing us. Why are they ignoring us like this? We are humans and we feel we are in grave danger," she said. The residents continue to blame the dispersant, Corexit 9500, which was used in the oil-spill clean-up, for hundreds of dead fish washing up on the beaches.


Trinidad Express
www.trinidadexpress.com


Down Here We Are a Forgotten People

10 Apr 2014
For the past few weeks, schools of dead fish — mainly mullet — have washed ashore leaving residents and fishermen to contend with the stench of rotting flesh. However, workmen using a large backhoe arrived on Monday, dug a deep hole on the beach and buried the fishes. "Today we are breathing a little better. Two days ago, you couldn't breathe here...the smell of rotting fish was so bad. We hope this is the last of it because down here we are a forgotten people," said retired fishermen Michael James. La Brea Member of Parliament Fitzgerald Jeffrey who has been very vocal on the situation and is convinced that Corexit 9500 used, to clean up the December 17 massive oil spill in the Gulf of Paria, is responsible for the kill. However recent tests done by Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) denied that the chemical is responsible instead said it could be linked to a bacteria. Jeffrey also refuted claims that the majority of the fish washing ashore dead was mullet. "No it was not only mullet, I saw cavalli, salmon and bacheene too."


Trinidad & Tobago Newsday
www.newsday.co.tt


Dolphin Washes Ashore Near La Brea

9 Apr 2014
A necropsy will be performed today to determine the cause of death of a dolphin found on the beach at Union Village, Vessigny yesterday. The dolphin was found in the surf by residents at around 7:30a.m. The animal was found not far from where an oil spill came ashore at La Brea last December, and where dead fish have been found over the past two weeks. The dolphin carcass was taken to the School of Veterinarian Medicine at UWI, St Augustine.


Trinidad Express
www.trinidadexpress.com


EMA says Corexit 9500 was NOT Cause of Fish Kill

http://www.newsday.co.tt/business/0,193058.html

8 Apr 2014
Preliminary findings of tests conducted on fish on the South West coast by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) found that the cause of death was not Petrotrin’s use of the dispersant Corexit 9500 after last December’s oil spill. Its findings suggested that the affected fish were of one population — mullet — which usually feed in low saline water like in the river, and river mouth. It found that the incident was localised specifically around the River Negg, Station beach and Coffee areas. All samples of fish were found well muscled (not starving) and in fact that there were a lot of digesta (food in the intestines) and internal parasites which indicates that the fish were feeding well, when the event took place. The Authority said there was no fish kill along the South West coast as this implies a significant and sudden mortality of different species of fin-fish and other species such as shrimp and crabs dying over a short period of time, usually in a clearly defined area, and in this situation, the fish found was of one species.


Trinidad & Tobago Newsday
www.newsday.co.tt


He Said, She Said

8 Apr 2014
Guyanese national Vidya Bachu decided to leave the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, with her ailing husband Jeetindra Sookram although he was being attended to by nurses. Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan made the statement during a press conference yesterday. Khan said at no time was Bachu advised that a failure to pay would result in a denial of further treatment for her husband. He added: "From the information received, the patient was attended to and treatment commenced in accordance with our established policy and procedures regarding the treatment of persons presenting themselves with chest pains". Bachu denied refusing to fill out the "pink form" obligating her to pay for Sookram's treatment. She said she was never given any form to sign or fill out, and Sookram was never registered as a patient. Instead, she said, when she tried to register him with his passport as a form of identification but it was given back to her when it was noted he was a non-national. "They are making it sound as though I took him and leave. That is a lie. They turned me away. I did not leave on my own. If they had told me to hold on, we are going to look after him, I would not have left because he was in a lot of pain. He could hardly talk."


The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper
www.guardian.co.tt


Deep Concern Over Death of Guyana Tourist

7 Apr 2014
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said that they were "deeply concerned" over the reported incident in which Guyanese national Jeetindra Sookram was refused emergency medical attention at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex. According to the Ministry, the Honorary Consul General of Guyana in Trinidad and Tobago Mr. Ernie Ross has requested the Minister of Health the Honourable Fuad Khan to investigate the report. "The minister has assured that the matter is already under investigation and has reaffirmed the principle that no one should ever be refused emergency medical attention at any hospital" the Foreign Affairs Ministry said. It was noted that the ministry will be aggressively pursuing the matter with the authorities in Trinidad and Tobago.


Kaieteur News
www.kaieteurnewsonline.co.tt


The Treatment We Get in the Hospital Was Not Nice

6 Apr 2014
Guyanese national Vidya Bachu is appealing for help to take back the body of her husband, Jeetindra Sookram, who died Thursday after being denied treatment at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC). The couple came to Trinidad on Tuesday for a two-week vacation. It was the first time Sookram, 35, a farmer, visited Trinidad. "I don't know if I will ever come back to Trinidad or recommended my family and friends to come here because the treatment we get in the hospital was not nice." She said it was costing over $15,000 to take her husband's body back to Guyana. "I really need some help. We are not rich people, we are poor people," she sobbed. "All I want is the autopsy done as soon as possible to get my husband body to take back home, that is all I need right now." She said, "As soon as the woman (at EWMSC) see his passport when I went to register him she did not wait for an explanation, she say we will have to pay. They put him to sit down and he was in so much pain and they were seeing about other people. "I think they should take this as a wake-up call. When foreigners come in the country don't treat them like that." She said no officials from the Government or medical agencies have contacted her.


The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper
www.guardian.co.tt


No Alarms, No Alerts, No News Releases

6 Apr 2014
For four days, the State oil and gas company, Petrotrin stayed quiet about a rupture on its No 10 sea line. No alarms were raised. No formal public alert was made. No news release issued that a Petrotrin sea line carrying a "high-risk" integrity rating had ruptured and spilled 7,453 barrels of fuel oil into the sea. And even then, against a widening backdrop of damaged coastline and wetland as far as 27 kilometres away, Petrotrin was quick to rule out any connection to the blackened stretch of La Brea shoreline or the communities that were falling ill. It used preliminary tests of oil samples taken from the La Brea spill as evidence that this was not their oil. For critical days as the oil made its way through the Gulf of Paria, killing hundreds of fish and birds, the State oil giant continued to provide conflicting and confusing information about what it knew and when. Company officials fed the country a pool of disinformation - firstly of a mystery leak, suggestions that it was crude from a marine platform offshore Brighton somewhere, of unknown saboteurs at work and a vague conspiracy which put the country's energy assets at risk. (continued)


Trinidad Express
www.trinidadexpress.com


T&T Visitors Better Walk With Their Insurance

6 Apr 2014
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan says the implementation of the National Health Card will clamp down on non-nationals seeking free medical attention at public health institutions. Khan said as far as he knows, the ministry has no policy in place that restricts free healthcare to non-nationals. In the coming weeks, Khan said, Government will roll out the cards, which would generate a policy that would allow medical services to only nationals and some non-nationals who work here. "So if you don't have a health card you cannot get in." Khan's comments came after the death of 35-year-old Guyanese national Jeetindra Sookram, who was denied medical attention at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex on Thursday because he was not a T&T citizen. Khan said the ministry would also put prices on the cost of medical procedures as well. "If I am going for a national health insurance system, I must be able to cost my procedures. Our people would get it for free. Non-nationals would have to pay for it." Khan also advised visitors entering our shores to walk with their insurance. "Maybe we should set up a policy that before you come into the country let us see your medical insurance. Medical insurance is not expensive."


The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper
www.guardian.co.tt


Tourist Dies After Being Turned Away from Hospital

5 Apr 2014
Staff at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) are once again under scrutiny after 35-year-old Guyanese national Jeetindra Sookram died an hour after he was denied treatment there because he was not a T&T citizen. Sookram was then rushed to the Charlieville Medical Centre Ltd for treatment, but died in the back seat of a Nissan Navarra in the private clinic's car park on Thursday. Doctors there said his symptoms suggested he suffered a massive heart attack, as he had complained about severe chest pains. "I think it is negligence that caused him to not have a chance. I can't understand how tourists can come into this country and get treated like this," Sookram's partner, Vidya Baichu, said yesterday. Baichu and Sookram, a farmer from the Guyanese island of Wakenaam, had been on a two-week vacation here and was staying at a friend's home. The incident comes weeks after baby Simeon Cottle's death five hours after his mother, Quelly Ann Cottle, underwent a C-section at the Mt Hope Women's Hospital.


The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper
www.guardian.co.tt


Taxpayer-Owned Bank's Reputation Now Tarnished

5 Apr 2014
The Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) has said it is disappointed by the reported actions of banking group First Citizens prior to and subsequent to the sale of shares through its initial public offering (IPO) in July 2013. "We regret the tarnishing of the bank's reputation now, given that for 20 years, First Citizens has generally exhibited good governance, fiscal husbandry, exemplary leadership and has garnered many international awards based on that track record. Transparency said there's a "need for answers" from First Citizens, which is owned by taxpayers, from the Minister of Finance and from the SEC. Transparency expects the results of the Ministry of Finance's investigation will be made public promptly. "We also urge the minister and the SEC to indicate what steps will be taken to preserve the integrity of the stock market and future IPOs in Trinidad & Tobago," it said.


Trinidad Express
www.trinidadexpress.com


All is Not Well in T&T

5 Apr 2014
President general of the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget accused Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of misrepresenting the political and industrial relations climate. He said she was making foreign investors believe that the country was running smoothly when it was not. He said, "Certainly this Government has a way of trying to portray that everything is okay in this country. When they go abroad, they speak as if everything is okay, but everything is everything but okay. Therefore, we want to communicate with the national, regional and international community, that all is not well in T&T. "You cannot go country-hopping and say that you have a peaceful industrial relations climate. When you do that, you misrepresent what is happening at the level of T&T. Today, the citizens are not happy with the level of governance and we must convey that is a massive way."


The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper
www.guardian.co.tt


The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

4 Apr 2014
Five Trinidadians holed up in a Venezuelan jail on suspicion of terrorist activities were undergoing military training there and were planning to travel to war-stricken Syria en route to Saudi Arabia. The five Muslims attempted to leave Caracas for Saudi Arabia sometime last week when they realised they were under intelligence surveillance by the Caracas authorities. "Coincidently, the three imams were at a hotel in Caracas at the time conducting legitimate business of securing visas for a group of Trinidadians to perform Umrah (small hajj), and they were approached by the five, who presented their passports to them. The five requested the imams' assistance in securing Saudi visas for them (five) as well. That is how the imams got grouped in with the five, because, they were meeting and greeting as muslims usually do." Rear Admiral Richard Kelshall who heads the National Security Operations and who led a delegation to Caracas last week to secure release of the men, said yesterday morning that the three imams "happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."


Trinidad & Tobago Newsday
www.newsday.co.tt


IMF: T&T Experiencing Robust Economic Growth

4 Apr 2014
Trinidad and Tobago is experiencing more robust growth after several years of sub-par performance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.
"With the end of maintenance-related outages in the energy sector, we project the economy will grow around 2.5 per cent in 2014, after growing around 1.5 per cent in 2013. The non-energy sector was fairly buoyant in 2013, which we anticipate will continue to be the case in 2014," the Fund said in a statement Wednesday. The time for withdrawing the accommodative monetary stance of the past few years may be nearer as the unemployment rate has fallen meaningfully, credit to consumers and for real estate is growing at a relatively rapid pace, core inflation has risen, and interest rate differentials are shifting in favour of US interest rates, the IMF said. The IMF reiterated its previous position that Government quickly move to start ending fuel subsidies, consistent with the Fund's increasing emphasis on this issue globally. The Fund noted there remains a critical need for streamlining the government's structure and improving the efficiency of the public service and the functioning of labour markets.


Trinidad Express
www.trinidadexpress.com