THE EDITOR: It seems that as a country we need to lose more lives at sea before we take action, before politicians, the police, the DPP, the judiciary and people generally demand action.
I recall a few years ago we lost a couple young people to drowning at an event in Chaguramas. I recall the front page stories. But alas I haven’t seen the learning.
On August 3, 2019, three passenger vessels in the Philippines capsized and over 20 people lost their lives. With this information I ventured out on a “reef boat” in Tobago on August 4, 2019. While I had concerns about the boat being overloaded we had already paid and it was our first time in Tobago.
All was well until we were approached by a coast guard vessel and escorted from the reef to Pigeon Point. I overheard a conversation that indicated the vessel was overloaded and that we were to await the police for an official count before we could leave the vessel.
To my surprise the foreigners on the vessel were please to see that law enforcement was looking out for their safety. I myself felt a sense of pride in the officers.
Charges had been laid and I paid keen attention to the case as it progressed in the court. This was a slam dunk case, I thought. Well you know what thought made a man do.
On January 13, the case was called and dismissed by the magistrate.
Is it that if you hire a good attorney they could make good men say things they shouldn’t?
Is it that the State did not give enough attention to preparing its case?
Is it that the magistrate used discretion as this was the first such case ever?
Is it that the police prosecutor was not up to the task ?
Is it that the state official cannot count?
I ask myself how could crime be reduced if the State can’t collect enough evidence to win an overloading case.
As a citizen I am happy for the State’s intervention that may have possibly saved my life and that of my family, but I am calling on the DPP’s Office, the Commissioner of Police, the Tobago police to do better. Yes, we the people are paying your salary, so we demand good work.
But there is hope as there is another case in March for the same issue with the same vessel. I trust there is learning.