DESPITE the strain being placed on the police and Defence Force to enforce public health regulations to prevent the spread of the covid19 pandemic in TT, the Prime Minister is standing by his decision to cancel a plan to use private security firms to supplement their efforts.
In expressing this view on Thursday, Dr Rowley dismissed suggestions that his decision was influenced by the PNM's previous opposition to the community comfort patrol (CCP) system which was implemented under the former PP government.
He told Newsday, "There was no covid19 before. This places an additional strain on the police and the Defence Force."
Rowley also said the pandemic creates "new opportunities for criminal conduct which accompanied the stay-home period."
Asked whether the decision to cancel the plan was because of its similarity to the CCP, Rowley said, "The (National Security) Minister (Stuart Young) explained in detail that he simply used the same team of security that was selected before by a previous approval process and he simply negotiated better prices and other minor changes."
Allied Security Ltd, Amalgamated Security Services Ltd, Innovative Technologies Ltd and Protective Agencies Ltd were the firms selected for the private security patrol initiative.
Rowley continued, "As I said very clearly, the introduction of this initiative provided an opportunity for elements to create confusion." Given ongoing efforts to combat the spread of the pandemic, Rowley said, "What is required now is not to exploit divisions but focus on covid19 with all possible united effort."
He reiterated that instead of getting the intended effect "what we got was an explosion of racial strife and disturbance. Rowley said because of this he "took steps to remove the source of the unsavoury development which allowed some people to be distracted from the primary responsibility of saving lives through complying with the call to stay at home for good reason."
On Wednesday, Young said the programme would have cost TT far less than it did for the pilot in 2014 under the PP.
Young said the cost of the programme would have been $87,000 per patrol for the month it was supposed to be used. He did not say the cost of the programme for the two days it ran prior to the sudden cancellation.
During the pilot and expanded programme more than 23,000 patrols were conducted with 127 significant incidents recorded. The mobile patrols were dispatched and co-ordinated by the National Operations Centre.