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Monday 22 April 2019
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Petition to ban fireworks after teacher’s beating, $2m house fire


A PETITION for the government to ban fireworks has been started.

This follows the destruction of three homes and a business by fireworks on Divali night, which left ten members of a Couva family homeless and a teacher being beaten by students when he tried to discipline them for using scratch bombs in school.

The petition ,which has a goal of 1,000 signatures will be sent to Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, Minister of Education Anthony Garcia and the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) as well as the Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and parliamentarians.

Petitioner Sareeta Artee Bridgelal outlined incidents involving fireworks which have had tragic outcomes, to appeal to signatories. She also called on people who have experienced any kind of suffering to speak out.

She referred to Tuesday night’s fire, in which three generations of the Rampersad family lost over $2 million when their homes, business, cars, household appliances and everything else, except the clothes on their backs, went up in flames. Fire officers suspect fireworks fell into their upholstery workshop and ignited flammable items and the fire spread to the nearby houses.

On Wednesday, teacher Ronald Constant was so badly beaten by students of the Barataria South Secondary School when he tried to stop them from lighting the explosives in school,that he was hospitalised and needs surgery.

The petitioner also referred to reports in the past week from teachers at from several schools including Chaguanas North Secondary, Siparia East Secondary School and El Dorado East Secondary, where teachers had to seek medical attention after similar explosions.

She also recalled earlier reports, including the 2016 incident in which a three-month-old baby was injured after someone threw a firecracker into his blanket; the 2017 incident in which a grandmother’s hand was injured when she tried to save her grandchild from a firecracker thrown into the car in which they were travelling; and injuries to 19 people caused by the improper use of fireworks, also in 2017.

In addition Bridgelal said fireworks also affect animals. “The joys and excitement of many Trinidadians who use fireworks from Old Year’s Night into New Year’s Day has led to sadness and worry for many dog owners whose beloved pets have gone missing.

“Have our memories gone short? This petition calls on the citizens of TT to think hard and use their power to advocate for those in power to completely ban the sale of all fireworks, to force the TTPS, led by CoP Griffith, to act now and charge those who choose to illegally use fireworks. It is time that something is done.

"This petition is only one part of an integrated pan to get fireworks banned,” she said.

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