WE SHARE the concerns of Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodan in relation to the circumstances surrounding the hijacking of a bus from the compound of the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC).
Monday’s incident, which saw one woman injured and another narrowly escape harm, suggests a serious breakdown of security at the PTSC as well as deficiencies in tactical response from law enforcement agencies charged with intervening in crisis situations.
There are several questions the PTSC has to answer. How was the driver able to secure entry to the compound? When was it ascertained a breach had occurred? Why was the driver able to leave the compound without, it seems, any sort of verification? Does the PTSC have the technological capability to monitor its fleet in real time?
The PTSC launched a GPS tracking system for its buses six years ago, but it is clear it needs to have stronger controls at all levels of its operations, including at its garages and warehouses.
Law enforcement agencies made efforts to interdict the bus. But these left a lot to be desired. Shots were fired, a vehicle pulled up in front. All in vain. It was only when the driver crashed into a house 30 minutes after the start of his joyride that police were able to take charge of a situation which had been, for too long, horrifically out of control.
Notwithstanding the belief by officials that mental issues may have been in play, all of these matters come against the backdrop of the increased weaponisation of ordinary vehicles by malicious actors internationally.
In July 2016, a 19-tonne cargo truck was driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, resulting in the deaths of 86 people and the injury of 458 others.
In October 2017, a terrorist drove a rented pickup truck into cyclists and runners for about one mile of the Hudson River Park’s bike path in Lower Manhattan, New York City. He killed eight.
The belief that terrorist organisations have extended their tentacles to these shores and that foreign terrorist fighters originating from this country now pose risks requires even more vigilance.
We join the national community in breathing a sigh of relief over the lack of fatalities on Monday. But this incident should not have happened in the first place.