Our strangled city

RECENT days have been particularly bad ones for Port of Spain. Criminals have brazenly carried out dastardly activities in key public spaces.

We’ve seen the planting of at least one incendiary device in a busy car park, a murder on a hospital ward in front of patients and staff, and a stray bullet in a classroom. All have shattered the already tenuous sense of security in our capital.

We call on the authorities to respond in the strongest possible way. The perpetrators must be identified, captured and brought to justice.

Though all these matters remain subject to ongoing investigations, one thing is clear: they involve people who were clearly confident they could get away with what they have done, notwithstanding the ultra-public venues for their attacks.

It’s a serious matter when people feel they can walk into a hospital, outside of visiting hours, and break through security arrangements in place to protect patients who may be subject to crime and violence.

It’s a serious matter when people can target a car park in the heart of the central business district a few blocks from Police Headquarters and the Parliament apparently without fear of being arrested.

It’s a serious matter when teachers and students of a secondary school must worry about being struck by stray bullets and fragments.

The latter incident is only the latest incident in Port of Spain in which crime and violence have crept through school gates. Children were among five injured in June in a gun attack in the vicinity of Providence Girls’ Catholic School and Belmont Government Primary School. Our capital is being strangled.

The killing at the Port of Spain General Hospital raises many questions. What security arrangements are in place? And are they adequate? Tuesday’s incident points to an answer in the negative but a thorough review should systematically identify vulnerabilities and recommend changes to prevent a recurrence.

Sadly, as is the case with the car park incident, people in the capital city will have to exercise heightened vigilance. In this regard, the long-standing advice, long issued by the Police Service, that if you see something you should say something doubly holds.

All of these lapses in security – and it is clear that they are lapses – require an escalation of efforts to keep the city safe. If all of these shameless attacks can happen in the capital, the message that is sent is that they can happen anywhere else.

We’ve long known, however, that crime pays no mind to geographic boundaries. All over the country, yesterday’s safe spots have long become hotspots. Where is safe? Before this week, the march of death continued to plague the land.

We should be focusing on the various campaign issues that have arisen in the local government elections campaign. However, crime risks hijacking even that most frenetic of campaigns.


"Our strangled city"

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